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The future of online poker in the US is still in the air amid recent developments around the case in the US Court of Appeals as the New Hampshire Lottery Commission is continuing its efforts to set aside the 2018 DOJ interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act.

Since the DOJ enforcement action remains on hold until the court issues a ruling, the forces behind it, obviously not satisfied with the chances of success and the current status quo, are already opening up another front.

Same Idea, New Clothing

On February 13, S.3322 titled “Prevention of Deceptive or Child-Targeted Advertising in Violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act” is introduced to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in Senate, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton.

S.3322 seeks “to prevent the unlawful use of financial instruments in the United States for online slot machines, lotteries, table games, and similar offerings, including games and applications that are deceptively marketed or designed to be attractive to children, and for other purposes”, but, in essence, what this bill seeks to do is to restore the 1961 Wire Act /RAWA/.

The bill is targeting advertising content from online gambling operators claiming that by use of cartoon characters and themed content companies target children and thus violate the  Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act /UIGEA/, but what sifts through the wording is another attempt at prohibiting online gambling, a.k.a. the next RAWA.

Chronology Of RAWA Legislation

Efforts to outlaw online gambling started back in 2014, after Sen. Graham Lindsey introduced bill S.2159 to the Committee on the Judiciary in Senate, in March, followed by bill H.R.4301 brought to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations in House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, both bills seeking “to restore long-standing United States policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling, and for other purposes”.

In 2015, unimpressed by the failure the year before and still pushing for the agenda to prohibit online forms of gambling, the same Sen. Lindsey and Rep. Chaffetz introduced S.1668 to the Committee on the Judiciary in Senate, and H.R. 707 in House, with both legislative attempts effectively looking to restore 1961 Wire Act.

Since 2016, another man joined the cause of banning one way or another online gambling only, Sen. Tom Cotton. His election, together with the elections of Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Lindsey Graham, was promoted by the Senate Republican Leadership Fund, which on September 20 received a $20 million donation from Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and billionaire and main donor of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Same Sen. Cotton, on the very next day of the hefty donation, introduced to the Committee on Judiciary in Senate S.3376, seeking “to ensure the integrity of laws enacted to prevent the use of financial instruments for funding or operating online casinos are not undermined by legal opinions not carrying the force of law issued by Federal Government lawyers”. In other words, S.3376 was trying to revert the 2011 DOJ Office of Legal Counsel interpretation that the Wire Act pertained only to sports betting.

Ban Internet Gaming Agenda Back On

That same Sen. Tom Cotton that is now trying to use children protection as a reason to pass a bill to prohibit online gambling, again trying to repay to the one that helped his election, Sheldon Adelson, and if in the near future poker players in the US are prohibited from enjoying a good game online, it is the latter they should be angry with.