Sens. Graham, Feinstein Pen Anti-Online Poker Letter to U.S. Deputy AG

Remember that time when Senator Lindsey Graham went on “The Daily Show,” played pool with Trevor Noah, ragged on Donald Trump and we all mentally paraphrased Peter Quill (via Rhomann Dey), saying, “He may be an a-hole, but he’s not one hundred percent a dick?”

Yeah, well, he is back to being one hundred percent a dick. Graham and Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter last week to United States Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, telling him that the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act put forth by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) should be “revisited and withdrawn,” an action which, if taken, would making online gambling in the U.S. illegal, even on the intrastate level.

As the Senators remind Rosenstein in the first sentence of the letter, this is not the first time they have done this. Graham, in particular, has been one of the top enemies of online poker on Capitol Hill for a number of years, doing the bidding of Las Vegas Sands CEO and billionaire Republican political financier, Daddy Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson is scared of online gambling, afraid that it will hurt his brick and mortar gambling empire, though he claims that he is concerned about children and problem gamblers. As such, when the OLC clarified that the Wire Act only said that online sports betting was illegal, rather than all online gambling, as had been the DOJ’s interpretation previously, Adelson became incensed.

Adelson and his cronies came up with the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a short bill which aims to roll back the OLC’s clarification and have the DOJ go back to the old, clearly incorrect interpretation of the Wire Act. It’s really bizarre when you take a moment to think about it.

Graham has introduced RAWA in the Senate on more than one occasion and tried to attach it to the Senate Appropriations Bill, but has failed to gain any traction. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced RAWA in the House and even held two embarrassing farcical hearings on internet gambling to curry favor with Adelson. Neither man has gotten much support for their crusade.

But Graham is back with Feinstein now, spouting the same anti-online gambling tropes we have seen time and time again. Let’s see, here’s something they say:

The DOJ opinion had the practical effect of repealing legislation Congress carefully and thoughtfully enacted in 2006 to ban internet gambling – legislation developed over seven years and crafted based on assurances from DOJ at that time that internet gambling was barred by the Wire Act and other federal criminal laws.

Yes, attaching the UIGEA to the must-pass SAFE Port Act and voting on it in the middle of the night with virtually no debate was definitely “carefully and thoughtfully enacted.”

And sorry that whoever gave you assurances about the shitty Wire Act interpretation was wrong.

Then there is the tried and true appeal to everyone who loves kids and hates terrorism:

Internet gambling takes gambling too far. It preys on children and society’s most vulnerable. The FBI concluded that “[o]nline casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes,” including money laundering and ventures by transnational organized crime groups. Of particular concern to us, as senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is whether the FBI has the resources to effectively oversee a robust internet gambling industry to assure online casinos are not being used for criminal activities, and to protect the interests of states that prohibit internet gambling.

It’s all such bullshit. That FBI letter is about a decade old, first of all, and second of all, the warning/concern set forth in it had to do with unregulated, illegal online gambling. You know, the kind of online gambling that I am forced to partake in if I want to play in a $2 Sit-and-Go because our wise lawmakers decided that the best way to protect me is to leave online gamblers without regulatory protection.

There’s a bit more to the letter, but you can read the drivel for yourself.

I will leave you with Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas, who scorched Graham and Feinstein:

If they were handing out awards for Congressional letters, this one would win “most misleading” in a landslide. Aside from the statement that Pennsylvania authorized online gaming and other states are considering it, there is nary a fact contained with the letter’s five paragraphs. Congress has given express authority to states to regulate igaming, a detail that Senators Graham and Feinstein repeatedly ignore. Moreover, they continue to misrepresent and almost decade old FBI letter that does not address the realities of regulated online gaming. I suppose it’s easier to conflate reality with their own bias to continue making the same points, than actually own up to the fact that regulated igaming is responsible public policy.

“Conflate” is a fantastic word, isn’t it?

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