NJ Politics Digest: Could Trump Policy Curtail Online Gaming?

Sheldon Adelson.
Casino mogul and Trump donor Sheldon Adelson. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Online gaming is big business in New Jersey and a big revenue generator for the state.
NJSpotlight reports that online gaming in the Garden State garnered more than $350 million in revenue in 2018, with about $60 million of that going to the state treasury.

But the Trump administration is threatening to rein in online gaming around the nation with an interpretation of the federal Wire Act that would make such gambling, and possibly interstate lotteries, illegal. That’s a switch from a 2011 Obama administration policy that said the act didn’t apply to online gaming in states that have approved it, according to NJSpotlight. That led New Jersey and Pennsylvania to approve online gambling.

State officials have spoken out against the change in interpretation of the Wire Act. Now state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal—who has raised concerns the federal switch could be the result of influence from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a top Trump donor—is seeking any correspondence the Department of Justice has had with Adelson or lobbyists about the issue, according to NJSpotlight.

The report notes that it’s unclear what happens next with the policy. When announcing its interpretation of the Wire Act near the end of January, the Justice Department said it wouldn’t begin enforcing it for 90 days. Those watching the situation say the final determination will likely be made by a federal judge as the dispute appears headed to court.

Quote of the Day: “We want to know who Justice Department officials spoke with, and why they decided to change their minds,” — State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, on a new federal legal interpretation that could ban online gaming.

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