Will the New Trump Cabinet be Good or Bad for Gambling?

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Now that President-elect Donald J. Trump has finished nominating the members of his cabinet, Gambling 911 takes a look at those nominations to see if any of them could have an impact on the gambling industry.

The Secretary of Labor or the Secretary of Commerce could potentially have to deal with issues involving casinos.

And since online casinos in the past have been used by terrorists to launder money, that issue might come up for the Secretary of Homeland Security.

But for sure the most important cabinet position in regards to the gambling industry is the Attorney General of the United States.

The federal government's war on Internet gambling began in 1998 when then-Attorney General Janet Reno issued arrest warrants for 21 Americans involved with operating offshore and online sportsbooks and casinos based in Costa Rica and the Caribbean--the infamous "Internet 21" case--so an A.G.'s views on gambling are of paramount importance.

For the position of the next Attorney General of the USA, Trump has nominated Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions III of Alabama, who currently serves as a U.S. senator from that state.

Sessions will turn 70 years old on the day before Christmas.

But unfortunately for the gambling industry, when it comes to gambling issues he's no Santa Claus bearing goodwill--he's more like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

The Republican and arch-conservative Sessions, who's been a senator for 20 years, is no friend of the gambling industry.

In 2006, he worked vigorously to prevent an Indian tribe from opening a casino in Alabama.

According to a press release posted at the time on Sessions' Senate website and still available online here the senator was adamant that a tribal casino not be built in Fort Payne, a town of about 14,000 people in northeast Alabama, some 180 miles north of Montgomery.

“I don’t believe it’s right that a tribe outside the State of Alabama can operate gambling facilities in Alabama when state law prohibits Alabama citizens from doing so," Sessions declared in the press release.

“Today, I met with officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior to discuss Indian gambling in Alabama.

"There is a long administrative process that a tribe must follow before Indian gaming is allowed, and I intend to work diligently to block it every step of the way.

“It is also my understanding that current law gives Governor Riley the right to veto a proposal such as the one discussed in Fort Payne.”

The tribal casino was never built.

Earlier, in 1997, before Reno had acted, Sessions issued a press release condemning Internet gambling.

The condemnation came as another senator, Jon Kyl of Arizona, was sponsoring early legislation to make Internet gambling illegal in the U.S.

“I am troubled by how easy it is for children to pick up their parents’ credit cards and gamble on the Internet,” Sessions said. “This legislation is an attempt to keep-up with the rapid changes taking place in cyberspace.”

When the U.S. Senate unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation in 1997 and 1998 that would have made Internet gambling illegal in the USA, Sessions voted in support of the ban both times.

So it looks like Sessions, if confirmed as Attorney General, would likely continue the federal crackdown on Internet gambling, or at least support that action should a President Trump want it.

That's not good news for the effort to legalize it nationally.

Unless, of course, Trump, who once owned casinos in Atlantic City and is viewed as pro-gambling, orders Sessions to back off on Internet gambling.

Knowing Trump's penchant for making money, the new President could even legalize Internet gambling nationally and let the federal government run the only legal online casinos in the U.S.

Such a scheme would earn billions of dollars for the government, enough that maybe people wouldn't even have to pay income taxes any more.

That makes too much sense--which is why the government would probably never do it.

By Tom Somach

Gambling 911 Staff Writer


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