Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General — Bad News for Online Gambling?

toby lester
Written by Toby Lester
Published on Tuesday 22nd November 2016, 1:06 pm
Posted in: Casino Legal

Casino Legal

Jeff Sessions, the Alabama senator known for his staunch conservative views and dislike of gambling, has been chosen for the job of US attorney general. But could this spell bad news for online casinos and lotteries?

Earlier this week, brought you news that President Elect Donald Trump had invited casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — a fierce opponent of online gambling — to help lead his inauguration committee. Although gaming associations in the US remained optimistic that the industry would continue to flourish under Trump’s leadership regardless of Adelson’s inclusion, the announcement that Alabama senator Jeff Sessions will take the role of attorney general has certainly raised a few red flags.

A climate change sceptic who vocally opposes the recreational use of marijuana (which is already legal in a eight US states and being considered by a handful of others), Mr Sessions has in the past supported bills that would outlaw gambling completely, saying that he was “troubled” by the thought of young children using their parents’ credit cards to gamble online.

Industry pundits are especially concerned that the 2011 ruling passed by the US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, which grants states the power to legalize online gambling, could be overturned by Mr Sessions once he becomes attorney general. In his new position, Mr Sessions could technically reverse this ruling, forcing online lotteries and casinos in states that took advantage of the 2011 ruling to close their virtual doors.  

The good news, however, is that despite his unapologetically conservative outlook, up until now Mr Sessions has largely ignored the issue of gambling when in office. Furthermore, any attempt to reverse the 2011 ruling would undoubtedly be met by strong opposition from online casino and lottery organisations in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois and Delaware to name but a few, causing a legal headache for the new AG that would linger for years. Chances are, Mr Sessions will not challenge the ruling and, under Donald Trump’s likely industry-focused leadership, quietly embrace the increased revenue that the countless newly established lotteries and casinos bring in.

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