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U.S. Attorney General To End Personal Involvement In Online Poker Debate

Jeff Sessions Steps Away, But Fight Is Still Far From Over


Could the Russia scandal for the Trump Administration be good for online poker?

In a surprise development, it appears that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will no longer be flirting with a half-baked plan to effectively ban real-money online casino gaming, which is already legal and regulated in three states (Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware).

Bloomberg reports that because of a conflict of interest Sessions will recuse himself from efforts to “restore” the 1961 Wire Act, which had previously prevented states from launching online gambling industries, whether it be the lottery or casino-style games. In late 2011, the Obama Department of Justice re-interpreted that decades-old law, watering it down so that states could enact their own web gaming laws. That decision has been in the cross-hairs of some Republicans.

It’s a wise move by Sessions, as the vast majority of conservatives think an online gaming ban is a downright terrible idea. It would also violate states’ rights.

Sheldon Adelson, the man funding RAWA efforts because his competitors have stakes in the online casino gambling space, is behind a group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. That organization hired a lobbyist by the name of Charles Cooper, who reportedly is a personal lawyer for Sessions to deal with the probe into Russia’s influence on the 2016 election.

Sessions ending his work on the online gaming issue doesn’t mean the lobbying of Justice Department officials will end anytime soon. But he’s obviously a good person to have step away.

Sessions baffled many earlier this year by saying that he was “shocked” by the federal government deciding to allow states to make their own gambling laws.

What’s at stake is the health of one of America’s oldest past times—playing cards for money. Live poker across the country does better with an online component in the equation. New players can learn the game in privacy and for lower stakes than they would inside a brick-and-mortar casino.

It’s unclear which way President Trump would go on the issue, if he bothers to have a stance. He’s a former casino owner in Atlantic City, and he flirted with the online gaming business years ago, but he has also accepted millions in donations from Adelson.