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Jeff Sessions Asked to Look at Wire Act

Pro wrestler Ted DiBiase used to say every man has his price. For Senate Republicans that price appears to be $20 million. That is the amount of money casino owner Sheldon Adelson donated to a Republican PAC last year. Adelson is against all forms of online gambling. That might keep people out of his casinos.

A day after Adelson’s donation was made public, three Republicans introduced a bill to prohibit companies from processing online gambling money transfers. At the heart of the matter is the 1961 Wire Act.

The Wire Act says, “Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

While it mentions “sporting events” by name, those opposed to gambling say it covers all types of gambling. For a while the Justice Department agreed. In 2011, the Justice Department said it applied only to sports betting. Gambling opponents disagreed.

Now that he’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has been asked to review the Wire Act. Because those opposing gambling want to see the old ways restored. Never mind that it specifically says sporting event. But Sessions has said he will look into it.

It’s not just Republicans who want to see the old definition invoked. Diane Feinstein also agrees with the old definition. And Virginia Senator Mark Warner wrote to Sessions asking him to reverse the 2011 definition.

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