Although there is currently a previous casino operator in Trump’s cabinet, it would appear that online gambling is still at risk in the United States and may be a debated topic in 2017.
In 2016 there was a lot of argument about restoring the 1961 Wire Act that would put a ban on online gambling, which seemed to really be picking up speed right up to the last couple of weeks of 2016. Despite this, the year closed out with no more progress for RAWA, but that doesn’t mean that the fight is over. This may be a strong start for a push this year in 2017.
There has been a lot of questions for the American Gambling Association to figure out what the new Trump Administration is going to mean for the gambling industry in the United States. While it’s impossible to tell this early on, the AGA did come out and say that they will be pushing to find “common ground” on the issue of online gambling.
AGA CEO and President Geoff Freeman told reporters that he takes the issue of online gaming seriously and they are making efforts to work with Congress and Trump’s new administration in order to figure out the current interpretation of the Wire Act. Right now, there isn’t any alignment regarding real money casinos on the Internet and whether or not they should be banned under federal law, but there is alignment in regards to land-based casinos that shouldn’t see any significant changes resulting from the Wire Act if things go south.
The latest proposal in regards to RAWA came just this month when Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick submitted it. There is also a lot of worry surrounding Senator Jeff Sessions being the United States Attorney General, as this runs the risk of the Department of Justice bolstering the Wire Act within just a few years of the Obama Administration watering it down so that states could regulate their own online gambling markets.
The United States casino industry is a massive market that sits at around $60 billion each year. Some states, such as New Jersey, have a lot of reliance on online gambling in order to keep their struggling land-based casino market afloat. Some operators are seeing a larger amount of online bets being taken than they see at their land-based casinos, and if the rug gets pulled out from under them it could have disastrous effects that results in a lot of closures. In New Jersey there was a 30% increase in online gambling this last year.
Some states have online lotteries that could also be impacted by the resurrection of the Wire Act. Opponents of the Wire Act have fought back over the years through a claim that it impedes on the state’s rights to regulate their own citizens.
Surprisingly, billionaire and prominent casino owner Sheldon Adelson is one of the main pushers of RAWA. His argument is that online casinos actually hurt land-based casino businesses, and is dead set on seeing some form of prohibition put into place to stop them.