Why RAWA Failed to Gain Traction in Congress

December 10, 2014
Why RAWA Failed to Gain Traction in Congress

It appears that Sheldon Adelson’s attempt to force his competitors out of the online gaming business has failed for the year. There was anxiety in the industry until the Cromnibus bill language was released without any mention of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

It is no secret that Adelson was trying to pull some strings based on his generous donations to GOP lawmakers. Luckily, there was too much opposition.

Ron Paul Started the Backlash

On November 16, Ron Paul blasted Adelson and RAWA, using the word “cronyism” to describe the actions being taken to receive a business favor through legislative effort. “(Adelson) is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals,” Paul said. “Passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals.”

Paul ties this into a more serious issue of liberty and states’ rights that would be lost for the sole purpose of benefiting a major political donor, making it a “losing bet for all of us”.

Conservative and Libertarian Groups Jumped in Next

Grover Norquist, President of the Americans for Tax Reform, was one of 12 conservative and libertarian group leaders that opposed RAWA in a letter dated November 20. The group cited a report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Michelle Minton that researched the history and intent of the Wire Act. It also noted several state level organizations that had already come out in opposition of RAWA.

Adelson’s Influence Noticed by Mainstream Media

Donating $100 million to political candidates creates a spotlight. Mainstream media picked up the story about how a casino owner was lobbying hard to fight an industry where his competitors were making large investments.

Politicians were on alert that doing Adelson a favor under these conditions would be noticed and widely reported. This may have been a deciding factor as to why the committee hearing was canceled and the bill did not make it onto any must-pass form of legislation.

Adelson Brought Out Our Fight

Poker players know all too well how corrupt the political system can be. In 2006, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist secretly attached the UIGEA to unrelated must-pass legislation.

The RAWA situation was far different than the UIGEA. Poker players did not think that the UIGEA could be passed in such an underhanded way. The lesson that our opponents will backdoor the legislative process to further their agenda was already known going into the fight against RAWA. Another difference was having casino companies like Caesars, MGM, and Boyd Gaming on our side. That was not the case in 2006.

Those Unable to Master Computers and Cell Phones Shouldn’t Be Making Tech Policy

Adelson admitted at G2E that his 1.5 year old grandchild is better at using a computer, cell phone and tablet than he is. This is yet another reason for anyone, even his largest political benefactors, to question tech policy that Adelson is trying to force onto the country. From those remarks, he does not understand the technology used by online gaming, yet he wants to be in charge of dictating internet law as it pertains to the industry.

Why would anyone in Congress even listen to Adelson? Let’s find out from Sen. Lindsey Graham:

“Because he’s like the strongest Republican supporter in the country,” Graham tells a Benswann.com representative at the 3:00 mark.

Fight Not Over

The Poker Players Alliance was able to rally players into contacting legislators through poker forums and social media. Many players responded by contacting their representative, but the fight is far from over.

This is certain to come up again in Congress and at the state level. Players need to be heard. The Poker Players Alliance has a page that makes it easy to locate your Congressional and state representatives.

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