The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) held a press conference in Washington on Wednesday in a bid to drum up support for the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which seeks to ban most forms of online gambling in the US of A.
The press conference was intended to boost awareness of the House of Representatives’ version of RAWA, which was introduced in February by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). The conference was promoted in a media handout that hilariously mistook the word “implantation” as meaning “implementation,” but if Chaffetz was embarrassed to share a stage with CSIG’s grammatically-challenged dullards, he didn’t let on.
Chaffetz, who presided over an extremely biased House hearing on RAWA in March, told reporters that his aim was to reverse the 2011 Department of Justice opinion that – correctly, in most impartial observers’ eyes – limited the Wire Act’s scope to online sports betting, thereby allowing individual states the freedom to decide for themselves what kind of online gambling their citizens can enjoy.
As written, RAWA would force the three states currently offering online wagering to cease and desist, although RAWA would uphold the carveouts for online horserace wagering and fantasy sports that were included in the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Asked whether he’d consider adding the suddenly controversial category of daily fantasy sports to the mix of banned activities, Chaffetz said he was “trying to hold tight to just restore [the Wire Act] exactly as it was previously. I’m not trying to make exceptions or adjustments to it.”
Chaffetz clearly wants it both ways, as the 1961 Wire Act predated the internet, the 1978 Interstate Horseracing Act and the fantasy sports industry. But even Chaffetz was forced to concede that Nevada’s recent decision to require DFS operators to hold gambling licenses “should cause a lot of people concern.” Just so long as those concerned people don’t include himself or any other Washington pol willing to vote for RAWA.
RON PAUL SLAMS CHAFFETZ FOR CARRYING ADELSON’S WATER
RAWA may not have much chance of passage, but opponents aren’t letting down their guard. On Tuesday, Ron Paul, former congressman and current chairman of the Campaign for Liberty, issued a statement condemning RAWA as an attack on the US Constitution. Paul reminded everyone that online gambling regulation is “solely under the jurisdiction of state and local authorities.”
Paul went on to say that “in a free society,” those morally opposed to online gambling “have the right to peacefully persuade others to refrain from gambling. What they do not have the right to do is use the government to forcibly push their morals onto others.”
Paul goes on to say that an earlier version of RAWA was introduced in the 113th Congress but “received little support” from legislators or the American public. Paul notes that RAWA does have the support of “one Las Vegas billionaire, who stands to benefit financially from a federal ban limiting competition in the gambling industry.”
LAS VEGAS SANDS TOPS CORPORATE DONOR CHART
It’s no secret that Las Vegas Sands supremo Sheldon Adelson is the driving force behind both CSIG and RAWA. Adelson’s campaign contributions to Republican causes are already the stuff of legend, having personally donated close to $100m in the 2012 election cycle, and new numbers have shown that his company is the top political contributor among all US public companies.
According to Center for Responsive Politics data, Las Vegas Sands is the number one contributor to political parties, donating $69.4m between 2002 and 2015. Amazingly, Sands managed that feat while contributing only to Republican and conservative causes, while all the other top-giving companies hedged their bets by splitting their contributions across the political spectrum.
Given Adelson’s jaw-dropping personal wealth, eight-figure bills for pet political causes are chump change, which is why he’ll go on pushing this agenda, regardless of its lack of success. It’s also why Chaffetz will continue to provide the quid pro quo that makes such a mockery of his allegedly principled stand against online gambling.