One year after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports betting, the Trump administration is digging in for a new showdown with states that want online poker and other forms of internet gambling to also get a green light.
The Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, normally considered a referee within the executive branch, fired the first shots with an opinion dated Nov. 2 that was made public earlier this year.
“While the Wire Act is not a model of artful drafting, we conclude that the words of the statute are sufficiently clear and that all but one of its prohibitions sweep beyond sports gambling,” the opinion states.
This conclusion ran counter, however, to one the Justice Department reached in 2011 under former President Barack Obama. Though the policy reversal lacks the force of law, its suggestion of a pending government crackdown has left online gaming companies confounded. Politicians have eyed ulterior motives meanwhile in the Trump administration’s sudden reliance on a 1961 law used by Attorney General Robert Kennedy to fight the mafia.