A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: December 9, 2015 1:00 pm 2154 Rayburn House Office Building


• States have a sovereign right to determine gambling policy within their borders. The internet is borderless in nature and threatens states’ ability to regulate gambling transactions within its jurisdiction.
• Federal law enforcement officials expressed concerns online gambling is vulnerable to being used for money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, and other criminal activity.
• Congress was not given the opportunity to properly vet the implications of online gambling before the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Council (OLC) reversed a longstanding policy based on the placement of a single comma in the Wire Act.


• To examine how the 2011 DOJ OLC memo potentially opens the door to a casino in every smartphone around the country.


• In 2011, DOJ OLC reversed a longstanding DOJ policy by declaring that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting and not all forms of betting. This policy reversal potentially opens the door for online gambling in all 50 states.
Lawmakers argue that a policy change of this magnitude should be determined by Congress and not DOJ.
• As a result of the OLC memo, New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware have already licensed online gambling, and many states are looking to follow their lead.
• Earlier this year, Chairman Chaffetz introduced H.R. 707, Restore America’s Wire Act, which would clarify that the Wire Act bans all forms of internet gambling.
• Newsweek included an in-depth look at online gambling’s effect on children, among other things, in an August 2014 issue.


Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT): “With (online) gaming there are lots of issues other than just location… (it also) has to do with your age. It has to do with your intoxication (level). It has to do with a whole host of things that CAN be addressed with somebody in person at a physical facility.”

Rep. Walker (R-NC): “I was alarmed to find out that nearly 40% of all online gamblers make less than $50,000. In fact, 14% make less than $25,000 … 54% of all online gamblers are minorities, which obviously should cause us some concern because many of these wonderful people live in some of these poorer communities.”

Rep. Grothman (R-WI): “Do you believe (the OLC memo) is resulting in a significant increase in gaming in states whose public policy is probably to discourage that gaming?”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable Mark Lipparelli State Senator Senate of Nevada Document
Mr. Joseph S. Campbell Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigation Document
The Honorable Alan M. Wilson Attorney General South Carolina Document
The Honorable Donald W. Kleine Douglas County Attorney Nebraska Document

Related Documents

Name Document