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Today,  I joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to introduce the Restoration Of America’s Wire Act

In 2011, the Department of Justice released a legal opinion regarding Internet gambling that abruptly reversed the position it held for fifty years and undercut laws Congress passed relying upon the DOJ’s legal views.  Overnight, we went from a nation in which all gambling on the Internet was illegal under federal law to one in which states could authorize almost any and every form of gambling on the Internet that they choose.

It is time to step in and fix the damage done to the Wire Act and allow Congress, the states, law enforcement, and the public an opportunity to fully review, assess, understand, and debate the significant policy implications entailed in the spread of Internet gambling.

 

Summary of Provisions

  • Section 1 – short title.
  • Section 2 – removes from the Wire Act the phrase “sporting event or contest,” adds definitions to some of the terms found in the Wire Act.

Explanation of Section 2:

    • The Wire Act uses the phrase “sporting event or contest” in one clause, but not in another.  While DOJ had always interpreted the Wire Act to ban all online gaming, the 2011 reversal – finding that it only prohibited sports betting - was predicated in part on the use of this phrase in only part of the Act.  Our bill will remove any ambiguity as to what form of online gambling the Wire Act applies to, and restore its longstanding interpretation.
    • Among the definitions, this bill exempts from the definition of “bet or wager” certain non-gambling activities to mirror the exemptions found in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA); things such as, e.g., securities transactions, insurance contracts, bank transaction, and certain fantasy sports.  This bill also makes clear that using a “wire communication facility” for gambling, includes using the Internet.

  • Section 3 – construction clause.

Explanation of Section 3:

  • Finally, we include a construction clause to clarify that our legislation does not alter, limit, or extend the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978; in-person, state licensed retail lottery sales; or state charitable gaming laws.

 

In addition, I also sent the following letter to the Utah Attorney General in response to a request he made on the DOJ’s legal opinion regarding online gambling:

Sen. Lee Responds to Letter Requesting Review of Wire Act Interpretation

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