Poker Players Alliance urges review of RAWA

11 January 2017

(PRESS RELEASE) -- The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) yesterday reacted to a commitment by Sen. Jeff Sessions, nominee to be the Attorney General of the U.S., to review the Department of Justice's position on the Wire Act. The PPA is the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with 1.2 million members nationwide.

In response, John Pappas, Executive Director of the PPA, issued the following:

"In 2006, a Republican Congress and a Republican President passed and signed into law a bill that allowed states to regulate online gaming. This language was reaffirmed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2011 and empowered individual states to pursue policies that best served their citizens.

"A reversal of this decision would be a radical departure from the precedent given to the independent and legally based opinions generated by DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). We appreciate nominee Sessions' pledge to give the issue 'careful study,' and we also have no doubt that such careful study will reaffirm what OLC, the courts and Congress already agree on: the Wire Act is limited to sports betting and states may regulate other forms of internet gaming.

"We also trust that he adheres to the longstanding practice of giving 'great weight to any relevant past opinions' when he reviews OLC's 2011 position with regard to the Wire Act. The precedent of giving weight to prior OLC decisions is something both the Bush and Obama administrations advised in published 'Best Practices' memorandums.

"Countless organizations agree that states should be able to regulate online gaming – regulation that provides robust consumer protections. Support for the 2011 interpretation includes: The American Conservative Union; Americans for Tax Reform; Campaign for Liberty; Center for Individual Freedom; Competitive Enterprise Institute; Fraternal Order of Police; National Conference of State Legislatures; National Governors Association; Ron Paul Institute; and Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

"In his opening statement, nominee Sessions said his Department of Justice would not 'cower to special interests.' We applaud that stance, and share it, as we have long been on the front lines of this fight battling against powerful political donors and special interests seeking to influence legal policy in the U.S. for their own financial benefit.

"I agree with Senator Graham, 'when the state is doing its job, the federal government should let the states do their job.' States around the country are doing their jobs by effectively regulating internet gaming. The next Attorney General should not usurp the rights of states. A de facto federal prohibition of internet gaming will undermine the ability of states to protect consumers and will lead to an unaccountable and completely unregulated black market."

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