Why the RAWA won’t pass

Why the RAWA won’t pass

Nolan DallaWhy the RAWA won’t pass wrote a long, well-written piece for his NolanDalla.com site yesterday giving 10 reasons why online poker could be outlawed in the USA.

Nolan has been a great proponent for the game of poker. There are few people who promote the game and the players with such passion and fervency but his article seems to be little more than scare tactics to rally the troops to ward off the remote chance the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) becomes law.

Let’s look at each of his arguments and we’ll do our best to ease your minds a little, as we’re confident that RAWA won’t pass.  Dalla’s arguments are in Italics.

RAWA supporters have made this a top political priority and they’re now in positions of power.

In Dalla’s first argument he made a list of Sheldon Adelson’s favored politicians, many of which hold key government positions that could influence the likelihood of RAWA passing.

Despite having staunch online gambling opponents Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT) holding seats on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, it doesn’t guarantee the bill will advance further. Back in 2010, Barney Frank’s HR 2267 passed the House Financial Services Committee and was never heard from again, despite having a Democratic-controlled House and Senate.

Even if the full House of Representatives passes RAWA, the Senate requires 60-votes for passage. Senate Dems Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein may get behind RAWA but the bill would need the support of all 54 Republicans and four other Democrats for passage. And the Democratic caucus doesn’t owe Adelson any favours.

 The online gambling prohibition movement is well-funded and far better organized.

We’ll agree that the opposition to gambling is well organized but deep pockets are no guarantee of anything. Eric Cantor outspent his Tea Party challenger David Brat 40 to 1 in the 2014 primary but to no avail. Formerly the number two ranking GOP member in the House and the presumptive replacement for Speaker John Boehner, Cantor is now best known as a cautionary tale.

RAWA has reasonably broad bi-partisan support.

It’s true for both sides of the argument. Federal politicians from New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware and every state that has a lottery that has either already gone online or plans to do so will oppose RAWA.

There’s growing perception and even fear that America already has enough gambling.

Dalla argues that because of the proliferation of casino gambling over the last 20 years, there will be an inevitable backlash against gambling.

That perception works both ways as the increased exposure to gambling without the sky falling has led to increased acceptance of gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment. If there is an impending backlash against gambling, we’ve yet to see any evidence of it, particularly if you use the amount of pending casino legislation and the wildfire popularity of Daily Fantasy Sports as a gauge.  The NBA is for legalized sports betting, Major League Baseball will discuss it, people want more gambling and with the sizable tax revenues to be made, state politicians will want it too.

The advantages of having a simple message outweigh a more reasonable, but complex argument.

States’ rights is a pretty simple message and “don’t tread on me” has been a catchy slogan for a couple of centuries. But RAWA opponents need to take a page out of the GOP playbook and go negative. They need to make Adelson the face of RAWA. It’s hard to give any sympathy to a cranky, old billionaire using Congress to eliminate his competition.

The online gambling movement remains disorganized and mostly divided

They may lack the organization of the pro-RAWA crowd but there is no shortage of opponents, including libertarians, Democrats, the casino industry that isn’t Las Vegas Sands and police organizations. They’ll come together if RAWA has any movement.

The current political tide and world events favour passage of RAWA.

David Hannum once said (criticizing PT Barnum): “there’s a sucker born every minute.” It’s true there is no accounting for the gullibility of the American public, so we’ll give Nolan this one.

There’s uncertainty as to where President Obama stands on RAWA.

Barrack Obama is cruising to the finish line now. He’s a lame duck and he can veto whatever he wants. It’s no guarantee that he would veto RAWA but a veto could easily be justified, as he does not want to negatively impact the states that have already gone online. These states would have to unravel their markets, forego further tax revenue and in all likelihood pay compensation to operators after long and costly lawsuits. In Minnesota, Scientific Games have said they’ll sue for at least $4m if the state’s politicians scrap the online lotto. Adelson won’t pay those bills, the American taxpayer will and that could make it worth a veto.

Libertarians and states’-rights advocates aren’t nearly as powerful as the concerted opposition.

Dalla is forgetting a couple of “fringe” groups like the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Democratic Governors Association, the National Governors Association and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.  These groups hold a lot of sway and have all come out opposed to Adelson’s baby.

Online gambling and poker lacks a sympathetic face.

Two can play the “won’t someone think of the children” argument. Online lotteries need to come forward with a positive message about all the charitable work funded by the online lottery revenue. Will YOU be the one to take poor Timmy’s wheelchair away?

The Restoration of America’s Wire Act has a chance of passing, albeit a small one but considering the opposition that it will inevitably face we’re confident it won’t. Now everyone take a deep breath and play some cards.