Prior to Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, it was clear US Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions had strong opinions about several hot-button topics. What was not necessarily clear was his stance on online poker.
After a morning of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, specifically the online gambling opponent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sessions made his stance on the subject much clearer: He is “shocked” by the 2011 Department of Justice opinion stating the Federal Wire Act.
That opinion could lead to trouble for NJ gambling websites down the road.
Sessions wants a closer look at online gaming
The 2011 opinion from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel did not change any laws. It did narrow the scope of 1961’s Federal Wire Act to only cover sports betting and not other forms of online gaming.
In the wake of the opinion, three states passed in-state online poker and casino legislation. Now New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware all offer either online poker or online casinos. Many other states are looking into iGaming as well.
“I did oppose [the 2011 DOJ opinion] when it happened, and it seemed to me to be unusual. I would revisit it or make a decision about it based on careful study. I haven’t gone that far to give you an opinion today,” Sessions told the committee.
Graham will likely be quick to supply problematic studies he frequently cites regarding the number of minors playing online. Those studies erroneously represent legal intrastate gambling and illegal offshore gambling as equivalent.
More on Sessions
Sessions is a senator from Alabama who previously served as the attorney general of the state. In the mid-1980s, Sessions was nominated for a position as a federal judge by President Ronald Reagan. The Senate Judiciary Committee was split on the nomination based on Sessions’ history of racially charged remarks.
The committee deadlocked, sending the nomination to the Senate floor. Sessions could not gain a majority of votes and failed to earn the appointment.
As a Senator, Sessions has served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is noted for opposing all three of President Barack Obama’s appointments to the Supreme Court.
Sessions was on the rumored short list to be President-Elect Donald Trump’s vice president. He was one of the earliest establishment supporters of Trump during his campaign. Sessions is a strict conservative with a strong stances against the LGBT community, as well as immigration.
Is someone influencing Sessions’ gambling opinion?
Oftentimes gambling proponents are quick to suggest the opposition is being influenced by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. In the case of Sessions, the answer is not so obvious.
In 2014, Sessions publicly disagreed with Adelson on immigration matters. Adelson sought to loosen immigration requirements. Sessions was adamant the requirements needed to remain stringent. He even went so far to openly call out Adelson on the Senate floor.
Sessions may have called out Adelson in the past, but it is no secret the Sands CEO donated substantially to Trump’s campaign, as well as the campaigns of several other high-ranking Republicans. It is also no secret Adelson has many items on his agenda, including a ban on all forms of online gambling.