It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Sheldon Adelson-created Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). But Poker Players Alliance (PPA) vice president Rich Muny believes that RAWA is behind four Congressman writing a letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The letter asks Rosenstein to reverse the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) 2011 opinion on the Wire Act. The OLC stated that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, and not online casino games or poker.
Dated Dec 19, 2017, the recent letter has signatures from Republican U.S. Representatives Dan Donovan of New York, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Tom Garrett of Virginia.
The letter also bears similarities to a piece written by Senators Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein in December. This makes it very likely that RAWA is behind both efforts.
The Wire Act of 1961 makes it illegal to offer sports betting over communication lines. And Adelson wants this to cover all of online gambling, for the sake of his land-based casino enterprise.
Adelson has been unsuccessful in his efforts so far. But with a net worth of $39.4 billion, he has more than enough money to throw at his problem.
Official RAWA Letter Sent on Dec 19, 2017
Dear Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein,
Two days before Christmas in 2011, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion overturning 50 years of interpretation of the federal Wire Act and opening the door to online casinos.
With the stroke of a pen, an unelected lawyer in an obscure office fundamentally changed our nation’s gambling policy – taking an activity previously confined to distinct, controlled, and monitored physical locations and permitting it to be offered 24/7 on mobile devices, laptops, tablets, and home computers.”
Internet gambling carries with it significant law enforcement implications, as the pervasive nature and anonymity of the internet makes it ripe for exploitation by criminals. The FBI has warned Congress that “online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,” and that it “may provide more opportunities for criminals to launder illicit proceeds with increased anonymity.”
The FBI also stated that “online poker could be used to transfer ill-gotten gains from one person to another, or several people,” and has testified before Congress that it has been investigating the use of online casinos by terrorist organizations. Other legal issues arise in preventing online casinos from targeting children and, since the internet knows no state boundaries, in protecting the rights of jurisdictions that bar the activity.
In advising Congress, the Bureau inferred it has higher priorities for its limited resources than regulating a legalized Internet gambling industry – specifically, “Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Cyber threats to critical infrastructures.” Considering how difficult and resource-intensive pursuit of Internet crimes can be, it is unclear from where the funding will come for law enforcement to police an online gambling industry.
These, and other law enforcement issues should have been fully considered before the Justice Department decided to stop fully enforcing the Wire Act against online casinos – but, according to former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, law enforcement concerns were not part of the mix.
A decision of this import, and one which carries such law enforcement risks as this does, should only be made after a full and public debate in Congress. As such, we urge the OLC Opinion be withdrawn to stop the spread of online casinos across the country in order to give Congress the opportunity to work with your department, as well as state and local law enforcement, to establish a clear federal policy.