If you’ve heard about new efforts this week to ban online gambling, you’re probably wondering what that means for your office March Madness pool. Your answer, if that’s the sort of thing you’re concerned about, should be: “What March Madness pool?”
You see, while online gambling was pretty much legalized on the federal level in a 2011 Justice Department decision, the ruling came with one exception: sports betting. DOJ’s legal counsel “has analyzed the scope of the Wire Act … and concluded that it is limited only to sports betting,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote in December of that year.
So while the feds won’t crack down on online poker (at least for the moment), putting money on your bracket is technically illegal, in addition to being foolish (and definitely not something this reporter has wasted untold dollars on).
While Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz try to restore the Wire Act’s far-reaching online-gambling ban, other legislation adds to the confusion. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed in 2006, allows games of skill such as poker and fantasy sports (apparently predicting athletes’ statistics is a skill game, while predicting game outcomes is not).
Currently, three states — Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada — have sanctioned online gambling. That would plummet to zero if the Graham-Chaffetz bill goes through. At the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Peter King proposed a bill last year that would legalize and standardize online gambling.
In the meantime, the online gaming world remains a mixed bag of state regulations and little-understood, scarcely enforced federal laws. So even though the letter of the law says your March Madness wager could carry two years of prison time, you probably have nothing to worry about — except for that upset you never saw coming.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”