(Senate - July 14, 2011)

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[Page S4605]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           INTERNET GAMBLING

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, per the request of Senator Kyl's office, I 
ask unanimous consent that a letter from myself and Senator Kyl to the 
Attorney General be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                    Washington, DC, July 14, 2011.
     Hon. Eric Holder,
     Department of Justice,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Attorney General Holder: As you know, several weeks 
     ago, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York 
     indicted various individuals associated with online poker 
     sites for violations of various laws. Additional indictments 
     were unveiled in Baltimore at the end of May.
       These indictments came after many years in which the 
     entities operated Internet poker websites to Americans in an 
     open and notorious way with apparently no repercussions from 
     law enforcement. Leading up to the indictments, this lack of 
     activity by law enforcement led to a significant and growing 
     perception that operating Internet poker and other Internet 
     gambling did not violate U.S. laws, or at least that the 
     Department of Justice thought that the case was uncertain 
     enough that it chose not to pursue enforcement actions. In 
     turn, this perception allowed this activity to spread 
     substantially, so that at least 1,700 foreign sites continue 
     to offer Internet gambling to U.S. players. We think it is 
     important that the Department of Justice pursue aggressively 
     and consistently those offering illegal Internet gambling in 
     the United States.
       In addition, we have two further concerns: the spread of 
     efforts to legalize intra-state Internet gambling and the 
     spread of efforts to offer such intra-state Internet gambling 
     through state-sponsored lotteries.
       We believe that the Department of Justice's longstanding 
     position has been that all forms of Internet gambling are 
     illegal--including intra-state Internet gambling, because 
     activity over the Internet inherently crosses state lines, 
     implicating federal anti-gambling laws such as the Wire Act. 
     Yet efforts are underway in about a dozen states to legalize 
     some form of intra-state Internet gambling. In many cases, 
     Internet gambling advocates in those states cite the silence 
     of the Department of Justice in the face of these efforts as 
     acquiescence. In fact, we have heard that at a major 
     conference in May, several officials from various state 
     lotteries boasted that they have obtained the Department of 
     Justice's effective consent by writing letters of their plans 
     that stated that if no objection was received they would 
     proceed with their Internet gambling plans--and no objection 
     has been received despite many months or years.
       This is troubling. We respectfully request that you 
     reiterate the Department's longstanding position that federal 
     law prohibits gambling over the Internet, including intra-
     state gambling (e.g., lotteries). Conversely, if for some 
     reason the Department is reconsidering its longstanding 
     position, then we respectfully request that you consult with 
     Congress before finalizing a new position that would open the 
     floodgates to Internet gambling.
       Finally, we would like to work with you to strengthen the 
     penalties for those who violate the law and to see what 
     modifications would be helpful to the Department to enhance 
     its ability to fight Internet gambling.
     Harry Reid,
       U.S. Senator.
     Jon Kyl
       U.S. Senator.