Las Vegas Sands‘ chairman Sheldon Adelson’s plan to banish online gambling from America’s interwebz has taken on tangible form via an unfinished draft of federal legislation planned for introduction into the US House of Representatives this year. Poker blogger Marco Valerio (@AgentMarco) obtained a copy of the bill, which bears the title of the Internet Gambling Control Act (read it here), in which ‘control’ means ‘eradication.’ The gist of the bill is to reverse the US Department of Justice’s late-2011 opinion that the 1961 Wire Act applied only to sports betting, a move that opened the floodgates for individual states like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware to launch intrastate online gambling regimes in 2013.
The three-page draft bill is very much a work in progress, as evidenced not only by the various gaps in the text but also the inattention to detail that starts with the very first line indicating the bill applies to the “113nd” Congress. (One can only hope the authors’ 2th effort will be more carefully proofread.) The bill’s official purpose is to “restore long-standing United States policy” that was undone by the Dec. 2011 Wire Act flip-flop to give Congress sufficient time “to fully examine the issues surrounding Internet gambling.”
Those issues, in case you were wondering, are entirely negative, including “money laundering, fraud, terrorism financing, cyber-crimes and participation by minors.” Somehow “potential cannibalization of Sands’ brick-and-mortar casino revenue” didn’t make the cut, although Adelson has routinely cited such concerns as justification for playing King Canute to the online gambling tide.
Adelson believes the study of these issues should be assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and he’s graciously allowed them two years in which to present their findings. In the meantime, Adelson wants the Wire Act redefined so that its prohibition of online wagering on “any sporting event or contest” is expanded to include poker and casino games, while fantasy sports would be granted a pass – just as they were under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
The bill is the latest demonstration of Adelson’s vow to spend “whatever it takes” to ensure his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) succeeds in turning back the clock to 1961, when children respected their elders, women knew their place and Sheldon still had use for a comb. To date, his efforts have involved a fear-mongering website and Facebook profile, employing some rent-a-pols to write misinformation op-eds and sending a woefully ill-equipped Sands exec to duck Congressional questions about Adelson’s hypocrisy for allowing mobile wagering at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
The bill’s chances of passing the House are about on par with Adelson earning a gold medal for freestyle snowboarding at Sochi. Online gambling is already operational in three states, with more looking to join the party. Reversing those gains would force the GOP’s staunch “states’ rights” advocates into the awkward position of explaining why this was a case in which the ordinarily evil federal government knew better. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a fight to see which Republican congressman/woman gets to attach their name to this bill. After all, Adelson is the GOP’s top sugar daddy, 2014 is an election year and our cynicism knows no bounds.