The Center for Freedom and Prosperity led a coalition of interest groups in sending a letter to Congress opposing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), legislation that would ban online gambling in the United States.
What the letter said about RAWA
Addressed to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Robert Goodlatte, the letter (full text here) urges respect for the Tenth Amendment — the part of the Constitution that puts forth that all powers not given to the federal government are reserved for state governments. Goodlatte chairs the committee where RAWA was considered in a hearing earlier this year.
From the letter:
“RAWA is an outright assault on federalism. The legislation tramples on the Tenth Amendment by banning state regulation of online gambling – further chipping away at the balance between state and federal governance. The bill would overturn state laws already on the books in three states and would prohibit states from selling lottery tickets online for their own constituents – rolling back at least another six state laws.”
The letter also comes as a renewed attempt to pass a RAWA alternative — a bill that would put a two-year moratorium on online gambling expansion — gains some traction. The letter mentioned that effort, as well:
“Make no mistake about it, a moratorium is as much an assault on the Tenth Amendment as an outright ban.”
Who signed the letter
- Andrew F. Quinlan — President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity
- Michelle Minton — Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
- Thomas Schatz — President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
- Dan Schneider — Executive Director, The American Conservative Union
- David Williams — President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
- Seton Motley — President, Less Government
- Andrew Moylan — Executive Director, R Street Institute
- Carrie Lukas — Managing Director, Independent Women’s Forum
- Norm Singleton — Senior Vice President, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty
- Heather R. Higgins — President, Independent Women’s Voice
- Bob Bauman — Chairman, Sovereign Society Freedom Alliance
- Jeffrey Mazzella — President, Center for Individual Freedom
A few of the signers added some commentary in addition to the letter. Quinlan, of CF&P, said:
“There is a great variety of gaming rules among the states, reflecting the different preferences of their respective populations. Washington should respect their wishes and not dictate to the states how best to handle their internal affairs.”
And Williams, of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance:
“The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to oppose any federal ban of online gaming under RAWA. TPA is also proud to be a part of this coalition that has fought against a federal ban of online gaming and preserving a free-market approach. The federal government should not be dictating how states decide this issue nor should they be using this as a backdoor route for Internet regulations.”
The Tenth Amendment gambit
The 10th Amendment tack has been employed already — most notably by the Poker Players Alliance — and theoretically it should be an effective tool in attempting to get Republicans to oppose the bill. Most Republicans lean toward the side of states’ rights, and not having the federal government interfere in matters that the states would like to handle on their own.
Perceived moral issues like online gambling can create a dilemma for Republicans, however.
RAWA, itself, seems to have little momentum right now, but there still could be an appetite for the moratorium — which would leave in place online gambling laws in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, while stopping expansion elsewhere. Beating the Tenth Amendment drum should give most Republicans who don’t have a strong moral dislike of gambling some pause in supporting that potential measure, as well.