Thank you for contacting me in opposition to recent actions by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) with regard to online gambling. I appreciated hearing from you.
As you know, DPS has taken the position that all online gambling within Minnesota is illegal, even if the games are hosted outside of the United States. Notices from DPS' Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division have been served to AT&T Internet Services, Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, Empaq and Sprint/Nextel, Frontier Communications, Qwest, Verizon Wireless and Wildblue Communications. It is not clear whether any of these Internet Service Providers intend to act on the state's order that they block Minnesotans from accessing online wagering sites.
On May 4, a bill was introduced in the House that responds to DPS' action. This bill (H.F. 2370) bans state enforcement of federal laws (such as the Wire Act) that have given rise to state enforcement efforts, without prior legislative authorization. The bill also prevents the Attorney General from cooperating with such investigations or enforcement actions without prior legislative approval. H.F. 2370 is scheduled for a May 11 hearing in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.
In the meantime, the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Minneapolis in an effort to prevent the enforcement of the DPS order. John Willems, in his capacity as director of the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement division, is named as a defendant. The lawsuit argues that the state lacks authority to order the ISPs to block Minnesotans' access to the gambling sites, and that its actions violate free speech rights.
As this issue continues to generate discussion and debate, and as the litigation plays out through the judicial process, I appreciate knowing your views. Thank you again for contacting me, and please keep in touch.
I'm impressed, obviously he did his research!
The committee is about a month behind in posting its minutes, but the Commerce and Labor audio transcripts say that HF2370 was removed from the agenda but discussed... haven't listened to the audio yet.
Despite bipartisan sponsorship, I think the bill's chances are low. The legislature has too many budget problems to worry about and the session ends May 18th! There will probably be a special session but its agenda is typically restricted.