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Bill to Ban Online Gambling Quietly Introduced to U.S. Senate

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Amid all the excitement and preparation for the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, one senator has sneakily made a move to ban online gambling again in the country.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.,  filed a new bill, S.3376, on the Senate agenda last September 21. The bill was read twice before it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which means that is eligible for debate as well as voting for its passage.

According to the Congress website, S.3376 seeks “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 the federal government lawyers.”

The Poker Players Alliance, which first broke the news, added new information about S.3376, which includes a description that the bill is a “reaffirmation of prohibition on funding of unlawful internet gambling.”

The bill also states, “The memorandum opinion for the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, dated September 2011, shall have no force or effect for the purposes of interpreting section 5362(10) of title 31, United States Code.”

This refers to the 2011 decision by the Department of Justice, which ruled that the Restoration of Wire Act (RAWA) applies only to sports betting and not to other forms of online gambling, including casino gambling and poker.

Cotton’s bill would not only reverse that decision in order to accomplish what RAWA first set out to do, but it could also potentially expand the Wire Act to keep up with the ever-changing industry.

Still, all these assumptions will remain just that—speculations—because the bill hasn’t been written yet. Currently, S.3376 only has a title and placeholder with the judiciary committee—nothing written related to the bill has been filed with the Government Publishing Office. And this is making many people in the gambling industry nervous.

For now, S.3376 is just a sentence in the Senate Judiciary Committee files. Until it finds its legs, that is.