Will the ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act’ mean an end for online poker in the USA?

pokerusaBills termed as ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act‘ were introduced in the US Senate and House yesterday which might end online poker in the USASen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) made the official announcement on the legislation and are backed by Sheldon Adelson. 

Chaffetz later claimed through a press release that the legislation is simply intended to make the online gambling discussion go through Congress rather than allowing the Department of Justice to reinterpret the Wire Act, as it did in December of 2011 by stating the law applied only to sports betting.

“The DOJ opened the door for massive change in policy without significant public input,” Chaffetz said. “These fundamental changes need to go through Congress. By restoring the original interpretation of the Wire Act, we are putting the genie back in the bottle and allowing for an open debate to take place.” But the buzz in the poker fraternity is that for this will mean a blanket ban on internet gambling before any other debates etc start. 

According to the official website, the bill details and press release can be found here

What’s surprising is that the bill introduction found some notable sponsors in the house including Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Lamar Smith (R-Tex), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Trent Franks (R-Ariz), George Holding (R-N.C.), Frank Wolf (R-Virg), James Lankford (R-Okla) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo). While there are 9 co-sponsors, only 2 of them are democrats and none of those are from states that currently regulate gambling in the USA.’

Immediately after this bill was introduced, many came out in support while some went head-on against it. US Senator Robert Menendez issued a favourable statement, “Blanket prohibition of internet gaming will empower black market operators at the expense of responsible states like New Jersey which have invested in creating a secure internet gaming structure. This bill would have the perverse effect of putting millions of American poker players at risk while doing nothing to prevent minors from playing online, combat fraud or crack down on other illegal activities. Simply put, blanket prohibition of internet gaming is a futile attempt to apply an antiquated approach to a 21st century issue.”

Surprisingly Adelson who is the main backer of this bill was a major political player in the 2012 Elections and is also expected to play an important role in 2016. The 80 year old Las Vegas Sands Corp Chief Executive is supposed to meet some prominent 2016 Republican candidates in Vegas soon including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who last year signed a law legalizing internet gambling in New Jersey, which along with Nevada and Delaware have approved online gambling as a way to boost tax revenue at a time when earnings from land-based casinos have flat-lined. It would be intereting to follow up on how the other Republicans come across with this bill.

While no one expects this bill to go too far but Tweeple came out in quick opposition of this bill with hashtags like #fight4poker and #commonsense trending. 


Post December 2011, online gambling was effectively outlawed in the United States when the Department of Justice(DOJ) backed a court’s decision that said a 1961 law banning interstate sports betting did not apply to other forms of gambling. No action was then taken by the Congress and some states chose to allow online gambling operations within their borders.

Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware now offer some form of internet gambling, and eight other states considered legislation last year. Online poker rooms like ultimatepoker, 888 poker and WSOP.com are currently operating in these 3 states that allow the same within their geographical limits.

Snippets from the Twitter outburst