Justice served on internet gambling

A legal opinion by the Justice Department reinstates a long-held interpretation of a 1961 law against gambling by electronic means. States moving toward online gaming should take note.

A game of internet slots is under way on a free-play site in Atlantic City, N.J.

The Justice Department issued a legal opinion Monday that will provide one more tool for parents to control their teens’ online activity. It might also help the high number of poor people in the United States who lose money on interstate lottery contests. The 23-page opinion simply states that a 1961 federal law, called the Wire Act, does indeed prohibit all internet gambling across state lines.

That opinion reverses one by the Obama Justice Department seven years ago. It will now reinstate federal guardrails as more states move to allow online gambling within their borders or try to expand “mega” lotteries to personal digital devices across the country.

The earlier opinion was issued in 2011 when recession-hit states were seeking new sources of revenue from gambling. It is widely seen as misinterpreting the intent of Congress to contain the ill effects of gambling across state lines with electronic communications. Before 2011, the Justice Department had long applied the 1961 statute to all sorts of gambling.

As some states have since learned, criminal operators and big gambling companies are very difficult to control without federal help. Tech-savvy children anywhere can easily access online sites. And offshore firms are not easy to prosecute.

“States with legalized sports betting simply do not have the resources to prevent their residents from migrating to these illegal offshore sportsbooks and local bookies where the odds are better, bonuses larger, and there’s no worry about reporting winnings to the IRS,” says Jon Bruning, former attorney general of Nebraska.

With the new opinion, Justice officials must decide when states have crossed a line by promoting gambling. Government has a strong stake in protecting the most vulnerable, such as children or problem gamblers. It also should not be in the business of advocating notions of luck as a source of success. A society advances by individual merit, the best ideas, and teamwork.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Justice served on internet gambling
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today