PASPA Repeal Brings Out Anti-Online Poker Provocateurs

September 28th, 2018 | by Greg Shaun

The repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) might have opened the door to some unexpected problems for the online poker industry.

Jon Runing

Former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has reignited an old argument during a House hearing on sports betting. (Image: Joseph Bisaccia/YouTube)

When the US Supreme Court repealed the 1992 act outlawing sports betting in all but three states, the overriding sentiment was that it would benefit the industry as a whole. Indeed, as talk of state-by-state regulation spread following the May verdict, lobbyists and politicians revived the call to legalize online poker across the country.

PASPA Repeal Revives a Familiar Cry

However, in among the rallying cries from California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) who believed sports betting would “raise all tides”, an old foe has reappeared. As the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and Investigations Subcommittee met on September 27, Jon Bruning made his objections to the industry clear.

Toeing the same line being pushed by the Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, the former Nebraska Attorney General said that any new laws could breach states’ rights. Likening online poker and sports betting regulation to the decriminalization of marijuana, Bruning said that one state’s actions could negatively impact another.

“Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, Nebraska law enforcement has been overwhelmed with the amount of illegal marijuana flooding into the state. The same harm will come to Nebraska when states legalize online sports betting,” reads Bruning’s testimony.

Bruning went on to use “online gaming” as a catch-all term for casino, poker and sports betting, suggesting that states without regulation won’t be able to protect miners.

“States like Nebraska, and others where online gambling is not legal, have neither the resources nor the authority to protect their kids from nefarious illegal online gambling operations offering tempting games on their cell phone,” the managing partner of Bruning Law Group continued.

PASPA Garb Belies a Well-Worn Suit

Despite the novel angle, Bruning’s testimony is an old argument rehashed. When the Department of Justice adjusted its interpretation of the Wire Act in 2011, anti-online gaming advocates were quick to suggest internet sites would be harmful to children.

In practice, multi-level identity checks and geo-location technology allow operators in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware to restrict access to their websites. Therefore, minors or those outside of permitted states are unable create an account at any US online gaming site.

The same technology will be used for online sports betting sites following the demise of PASPA.

Bruning’s testimony fails to acknowledge this fact. What’s more, as well as misusing the terms “intrastate” and “interstate” when describing lottery and gaming sites, Bruning assumes the former have access to technology the latter doesn’t.

In reality, the two use the same software to restrict play, which is the same software that will ensure states’ rights remain intact whatever side of the regulatory divide they fall on.


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