CEI-Led Coalition Urges Pence, Sessions to Oppose Ban on Internet Gambling

A coalition of eight free-market groups led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute on Thursday urged Vice President-Elect Mike Pence and U.S. Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions to reject calls to ban online gambling using a pre-Internet 1961 law. The issue was raised on Wednesday this week by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) during the Senate confirmation hearing for Sessions.

The current push to interpret the Federal Wire Act as creating a de facto prohibition on Internet gambling “was clearly not the intent of Congress when it was enacted in 1961,” the letter points out. Rather, the Wire Act only references bets and wagers on sporting events or contests.

“Regulatory intervention now from the U.S. Department of Justice would represent a true violation of the legislative process” and undermine the rights and flexibility states now have to collect revenue from in-state commerce and set policies that reflect the interests of their own constituents. “Today, it’s online gambling, but in the future it might be gun and ammunition sales targeted by Congress or an over-zealous executive branch,” the letter warns.

During the Wednesday hearing, Sessions said he was “shocked” by the Obama DoJ reading of the Wire Act and went on to say, “I did oppose [the DoJ memorandum] when it happened, and it seemed to me to be unusual. I would revisit it or make a decision about it based on careful study. I haven’t gone that far to give you an opinion today.”

At stake is not only a popular pastime enjoyed by millions of Americans but the sanctity of state sovereignty and individual liberty.

Letter co-signers include: Competitive Enterprise Institute, Institute for Liberty, Campaign for Liberty, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Digital Liberty, Institute for Policy Innovation, and the Rio Grande Foundation.

View the coalition letter