Rep. Chaffetz Reintroduces RAWA

John Mehaffey February 4, 2015

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) reintroduced the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in the House.  This bill is supported by Sheldon Adelson, CEO and founder of Las Vegas Sands.  Attorneys for the company drafted the bill.

RAWA seeks to outlaw most forms of online gaming.  This includes online poker and casino games.  It would override the already approved online gaming in Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey.  The bill would also take away the right of state lotteries to sell tickets or provide other games over the Internet.

The bill’s language is exactly the same, according to Online Poker Report.  The bill would exempt horseracing due to its exemption under the Horseracing Act of 1978.  Online and mobile horseracing wagers are permitted in more than half of states.  Fantasy sports, including daily contests, also receive an exemption from RAWA.

No companion bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.  The likely sponsor would be Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is a big support of Adelson’s agenda.  A Graham spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that no date has been set for a senate introduction.

RAWA died in the previous Congress.  A committee was set to debate RAWA when Ron Paul and other liberty groups came out in opposition of the bill.  The hearing was then canceled.  Paul described the practice of accepting donations from Adelson and supporting a bill that would hurt his competitors as “cronyism”.  Many conservatives also opposed the bill due to its violation of states’ rights.

A late push attempted to attach the bill to a must-pass budget.  Those attempts also failed.

The introduction of this legislation appears to be nothing more than a way to appease a big donor.  At this time, there appears to be little support for a bill that would take a right traditionally left to the states away for the sole benefit of one large casino owner.

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