Senator Lindsey Graham has a history of supporting anti-online poker legislation

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: October 15, 2020 6:42 pm EDT

Lindsey Graham, the long-time Republican Senator from South Carolina, is up for re-election November 3. While we aren’t here to tell you who to vote for in any political election, you should know the candidate’s anti-online poker record.

Graham, a member of the U.S. Senate since 2003, has been a popular political figure in the Palmetto State for quite some time. He’s built a lasting legacy in politics and despite belonging to an opposing political party, is a good friend of Donald Trump’s presidential re-election opponent, Joe Biden.

He’s coasted to re-election during his previous two attempts. In 2014, he received 55.3% of the vote, absolutely destroying Democratic candidate Brad Hutto (38.8%). And in 2008, his first time up for re-election, he won big over Bob Conley — 57.5% to 42.3%.

This time around, he’s facing an actual challenge. According to FiveThirtyEight, a leading political polling expert, Harrison holds a 1% lead less than three weeks before Election Day. But there is a 3-4% margin for error on these polls, so there’s still a good chance Graham will hold onto his seat.

Strong relationship with Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Venetian in Las Vegas, is one of the top Republican donors. He’s worth billions of dollars and uses some of that money to lobby for anti-online poker legislation. He’s been fighting for an internet gambling ban for many years. Many poker players credit him as the main reason online poker isn’t legal nationwide.

On multiple occasions, Graham has taken money from Adelson to help fund his political campaigns. And, no surprise, he’s supported anti-online poker legislation. The Department of Justice (DOJ) re-considered the interpretation of the 1961 Federal Wire Act, which originally deemed online gambling of any kind, anywhere in the U.S., illegal. But the DOJ reversed course in 2011, permitting individual states to determine legality.

Most states still haven’t passed legislation, and likely won’t for many years, however. But some states, such as Nevada and New Jersey, now have legal online poker. In 2014, after three states had already legalized online gambling (NV, NJ, DE), Graham and fellow Republican Senator Jason Chaffetz (Utah) introduced the Adelson-backed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill that attempted to restore the DOJ’s previous interpretation of the Federal Wire Act.

If the bill had passed, online gambling would again be considered an illegal act in the United States. Fortunately for the online poker community, Graham and Adelson’s attempts were thwarted, although Adelson still continues to fight for what he believes in.

In 2017, Congress struck down RAWA once and for all, a striking blow to Adelson. Graham also continued his fight to push through anti-online gambling legislation. During the 2017 confirmation hearings for the new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he asked Sessions to give his thoughts on the Obama administration’s interpretation of the Wire Act.

“Sen. Graham I was shocked at the enforcement memorandum that the DOJ issued with regard to the Wire Act and criticized it. Apparently there is some justification or argument that can be made to support the DOJ’s position, but I did oppose [the 2011 DOJ opinion] when it happened, and it seemed to me to be unusual,” Sessions responded.

Featured image source: Flickr