The “conservative educational foundation” Judicial Watch, which is heavily supported by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson (pictured), is doing its part by suing the US federal government for access to documents pertaining to the Department of Justice’s 2011 reinterpretation of the Wire Act.
In 2006, Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which made it illegal for some online gaming businesses to accept bets from customers in the US. While some online poker sites decided to pull the plug on their operations in America, others remained open for business.
Five years later, the Department of Justice unsealed indictments against executives from Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker/UB. Authorities had infiltrated and shut down rogue payment processors, crippling all but PokerStars by cutting off the sites’ money pipeline.
In a surprise move later that year, the DOJ announced that the Wire Act should only apply to online sports betting. The ruling essentially gave the green light for US states to legalize online poker and casino betting if they chose to do so. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware are the only states to have regulated the industry so far.
Adelson is seeking to dial back the 2011 decision and make it explicitly illegal to operate an iGaming site. To accomplish this, he has drafted legislation called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a bill being championed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
Judicial Watch is suing the federal government and claims that it has not received a response for its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents surrounding the 2011 ruling. In October 2014, the group asked for “any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the December 23, 2011 ruling to legalize non-sports betting over the internet, including but not limited to any records on the legal basis for the ruling under the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.”
According to Judicial Watch, the DOJ had until February 18 of this year to make its decision on whether to release the information, but has not yet responded.
For a group which “promotes transparency, accountability, and integrity in government,” its involvement in Sheldon Adelson’s one-man war against the online gambling industry is ironic.
And it’s not hard to connect the dots between Judicial Watch and Adelson. The group’s founder, Larry Klayman, also founded a similar organization called Freedom Watch (now defunct), which was almost completely funded by the casino magnate.
While Adelson puts his crack team of political operatives to work banning internet gambling, his own casinos are being fined for allowing minors to gamble, and even drink alcohol. Journalist Tim James recently exposed the hypocrisy of Adelson’s anti-iGaming campaignby clandestinely filming two underage companions as they played poker and table games, drank alcohol, and cashed out without anyone ever asking for their ID. Adelson’s casinos: the Venetian (pictured) and Palazzo in Las Vegas, among others.
To put the icing on the cake, James himself went to a bar inside the Venetian and was able to pick up a prostitute within minutes. After agreeing to be filmed, she revealed that she and her companions often work out of the casino with no problems whatsoever.