Is the glass of water half-full, or half-empty? When evaluating the shocking turn of events this month in regards to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the American Wire Act it is hard to feel very optimistic. Just a brief history, in 2011 President Obama´s Department of Justice decided that large parts of the American Wire Act did not apply to the internet, which instead was ruled to be a public utility rather than a media source. Basically, their decision was that the internet should be treated more like electricity rather than public TV. This decision drastically changed a lot of the regulations placed on internet service providers and helped protect privacy and also increase the ease of providing internet service to rural areas. At the time, then-Senator Jeff Sessions was ´shocked´ by the decision. Fast forward six years and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, very quickly in the Trump Administration has been a strong proponent of the so-called RAWA ( Restoration of the American Wire Act) which basically does nothing more than return the internet to where it was in 2010 with an added green-light for ISPs to collect and sell personal information about customers and their browsing habits. Another part of RAWA would directly go after online gambling at a federal level.
However, early last month, revelations began to appear that Jeff Sessions had and still has many business and personal conflicts of interests regarding the American Wire Act reversal. The biggest revelation came a few weeks ago when it was found that Session´s personal attorney and close friend is also a lobbyist for Sheldon Adelson, the owner of some of the largest casinos in Las Vegas. Adelson hired Session´s friend and lawyer to work for an organization called CSIG (Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling). In the USA, there is a no bigger enemy to online gambling than Sheldon Adelson who not only operates many federal lobbying organizations but has also gotten involved in state battles in Pennsylvania and New York which where he fought against any expansion of online gambling.
And so as an online gambling enthusiast, how do we view this development? On the top level, it seems good that someone like Sessions who has financial and personal motives against online gambling is now no longer going to be making the final decision. But the reality is that it is naive to think just because he has recused himself that his influence won´t still permeate throughout the Department of Justice. The amount of money Adelson has donated to the Republican Party almost ensures that appointed officials at the DoJ will have a very anti-online gambling bias. That friends and family of political leaders are being hired by Adelson for their influence is troubling for the future of online gambling. Yes, Session´s conflict of interest was revealed, but how many other DoJ people have not been revealed.