How Will Trump's Nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General Affect Online Gambling?

Elana K. - November 21, 2016

Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is a staunch conservative, and has online gambling supporters worried.

Donald Trump’s pick for Attorney General has online gambling supporters worried. Jeff Sessions, currently a senator in Alabama, is a staunch conservative who has recently been outspoken against legalizing marijuana and in the past has voted in favor of bills that would ban online gambling.

Will He Have the Power to Act?

As Attorney General, Sessions would have the power to reverse the 2011 Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel ruling that allowed states to legalize online gambling. If he does this, the three states that currently operate legal online gambling websites - Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey - would undoubtedly file lawsuits to uphold their rights, and an ugly legal battle would ensue. The four states that have legalized online lotteries - Michigan, Illinois, Georgia, and Kentucky - would presumably jump into the fray as well. A legal battle such as this could take years to untangle.

A History of Opposition

In 1997, Sessions backed the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, commenting at the time, “I am troubled by how easy it is for children to pick-up their parents’ credit cards and gamble on the Internet. This legislation is an attempt to keep up with the rapid changes taking place in cyberspace.” While Sessions didn’t end up being an official sponsor of the bill, the following year he did vote in favor of a bill that would ban online gambling in the US.

Hope For the Future?

Since 1998, Sessions has been quiet about the matter of online gambling, declining to co-sponsor RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, the latest piece of legislation that would ban online gambling. Sessions also has a track record of upholding states’ rights, a fact which might lead him to maintain the current status quo. At the end of the day, while he's not online gambling's biggest opponent, supporters of the enterprise still find it a bit unsettling to have someone so staunchly conservative up for the position of Attorney General.

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