The legalization of online poker has remained an uphill battle in the United States with several stumbling blocks hampering efforts to make legalized iPoker accessible to every American player.
Apart from the Fed Wire Act issue, a number of government officials have also been fighting hard to ban online gambling throughout the country.
This presents a huge challenge for online poker operators, players, and the industry in general.
Among the politicians who are strongly against allowing online poker and all forms of internet gambling is Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.
His stance against online poker has continued to harden over the years, so much so that he continues to make every possible move to prevent its legalization.
Below is a summary of what Graham has done over the years to ban online poker in the US.
Co-sponsored Legislation Prohibiting Online Poker
A re-interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act which happened during the Obama administration in 2011 enabled Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware to legalize online gambling. But that decision did not sit well with Senator Graham, arguing that it would only result in cellphones, computers, and other digital devices being used as online gambling machines.
Three years later, Graham, along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, introduced an anti-online gambling bill for the purpose of restoring the original policy laid out in the Wire Act, which was to prohibit all forms of internet gambling. The legislation, known as the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was re-introduced by Graham at least twice but it did not push through.
Attempted To Convince Three AGs To Ban Online Poker
Graham tried to raise the issue with three attorneys general to try to gain support from them. He first asked AG Nominee Loretta Lynch back in 2014 for her views on the 2011 Wire Act re-interpretation, but he did not receive a direct answer from Lynch. Again in 2017, he asked AG nominee Jeff Sessions the same question.
Sessions said he opposed the 2011 DOJ opinion and would consider revisiting the issue after careful study, but that did not happen as Sessions eventually moved away from the matter citing conflict of interest. During that time, Sessions’ personal attorney was a former lobbyist for Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas Sands Corp casino magnate who has been pushing for a ban on online gambling.
In 2018, Graham also raised the issue with the new AG William Barr.
Received Funds from Adelson
The first time Graham introduced RAWA, Adelson was behind him. But even before the introduction of the anti-online gambling legislation, Graham had been receiving significant financial contributions from the casino mogul.