Ron Paul to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions: Don't Ban Online Gaming

Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul recently wrote to President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting they not “interpret” the 1961 WIRE Act to give the Justice Department authority to ban online gaming. Since Dr. Paul sent this letter, Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from the decision since the Sheldon Adleson-backed Collation to Stop Online Gaming has hired a friend of his as their chief lobbyist. The House Committee on Appropriations may vote on the online gaming bill tomorrow. If your Representative sits on the Appropriations Committee, please call now and tell him or her to vote against the online gaming ban. Here is Dr. Paul's letter:

June 15, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Jefferson Sessions
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear President Trump and Attorney General Sessions,

On behalf of Campaign for Liberty’s almost half-a-million members, I am writing to urge the administration to uphold the 2011 Justice Department Memo rejecting claims that the 1961 Wire Act authorizes a federal ban on online gaming.

The claim that the Wire Act authorizes a federal ban on online gaming does not survive serious scrutiny for a number of reasons. First, the law was passed more than three decades before the Internet was widely used.  In fact, when the Wire Act was debated, the idea that average Americans would someday carry devices more powerful than the era’s super computers was too fanciful even for Science Fiction.

Furthermore, numerous statements show that Congress’ sole intention in passing the Wire Act was “to assist the various States in enforcement of their laws pertaining to gambling and bookmaking.” In other words, this law does not create any new federal crimes; instead, it authorizes the federal government to assist states in enforcing state laws. The use of the Wire Act to create new federal crimes is the type of "creative" interpretation of the law that you, I, and others have properly criticized when done by other federal agencies and federal courts.

Restoring the flawed pre-2011 interpretation of the Wire Act will overturn laws in the three states -- New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware -- that have chosen to legalize online gaming, as well as the many states that allow their citizens to purchase lottery tickets online.

Some argue the federal government has a duty to criminalize online gaming to ensure state laws outlawing online gaming are not undermined by laws in other states legalizing online gaming. But that does not justify nationalizing the issue. The United States Constitution does not give the federal government any authority to ban Internet (or any other form of) gaming.

Furthermore, using federalism to justify new federal power turns the Tenth Amendment on its head. The argument also sets a precedent that could be used to undermine other state laws, such as those protecting the right to keep and bear arms or the right to work without paying union dues.

A federal ban on online gaming will not stop people from gambling online. Instead, it will ensure that the online gaming marketplace will be dominated by criminals and even terrorists. In contrast, allowing the states to decide for themselves makes it more likely that individuals wishing to gamble online will patronize legal casinos that comply with all relevant state laws and regulations.

Outlawing Internet gaming not only usurps states’ rights, it also usurps the role of churches, families, and other voluntary institutions in promoting moral values. Trusting any part of government -- especially the federal government -- instead of voluntary community-based institutions to provide moral guidance and help people avoid the harms associated with excessive gambling is a strange positon for a conservative administration, especially one elected on a promise to drain the swamp and not to give D.C. more power over our lives.

In conclusion, I urge the Department of Justice to continue adherence to the 2011 memorandum that the Wire Act does not authorize federal criminalization of online gaming. Overturning this memo would put the Justice Department in the positon of ignoring clear Congressional intent and would authorize the federal government to usurp state authority and violate individual rights in a futile attempt to outlaw online gaming.

In Liberty,

Ron Paul

cc:    The Honorable Robert Goodlatte, Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary The Honorable John Conyers, Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary The Honorable Charles Grassley, Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary The Honorable Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Tags: ,