The efforts of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and the politicians under his umbrella to attempt to ban US online poker and gambling have generally only been the fodder for the poker media over the years.
It’s not often that a brighter light is shone on Adelson using his money and influence to push his agenda on online gambling via the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.
Occasionally, mainstream media gets involved, but not often. This time around, The Washington Post pointed out the idea that RAWA has little to do with anything but what Adelson wants.
Washington Post on RAWA
A super PAC received $20 million from Adelson, the Post reported; the next day, a new version of RAWA was introduced.
More from the Post:
The super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, backs Senate Republicans and is run by McConnell’s former chief of staff Steven Law. The group received $28 million in August — more than it raised during the entire 2016 election cycle.
The vast majority, $20 million, came from Adelson and his wife Miriam. The contributions were made public on Sept. 20, per Federal Election Commission filings. The legislation was introduced Sept. 21.
The latest RAWA attempt
The new bill that would ban online gambling —S. 3376 — is not actually called “RAWA” this time around. However, it’s the same basic idea: Trying to render moot a Department of Justice memo that said the Wire Act applies just to online sports betting, not to all forms of online gambling.
From the bill:
To ensure the integrity of laws enacted to prevent the use of financial instruments for funding or operating online casinos are not undermined by legal opinions not carrying the force of law issued by Federal Government lawyers. …
The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, dated September 20, 2011, shall have no force or effect for the purposes of interpreting section 5362(10) of title 31, United States Code.
It’s also not clear how Adelson’s latest comments on fantasy sports — saying they are akin to gambling — might be impacted.
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Will RAWA go anywhere this time?
RAWA has been around for some time now, but has not gotten much traction in Congress.
That hasn’t deterred Adelson and his political network from trying again and again, the latest effort getting turned back in the spring.
A committee hearing led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz — another Adelson ally — last December was an unmitigated disaster for the RAWA effort.
All of this doesn’t mean that the newest bill can’t go anywhere. It’s got three senators as sponsors, including Sen. Mitch McConnell. Adelson obviously expects action and progress when giving a lot of money to see his online gambling ban legislation advanced.
Once again, proponents of legal and regulated gambling in the US will have to be on their toes watching for movement on the newest version of RAWA.