South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz have officially introduced their legislation into Congress to restore the federal Wire Act. As reported by Online Poker Report, the bill titled “Restoration of America’s Wire Act” seeks to effectively reverse the DOJ’s December 2011 memo that the Wire Act was solely for sports betting.
Viewed as a bill that would potentially affect all forms of online betting and wagering, the draft makes several carve outs but none were for online poker. State lotteries would be exempt under this bill, as would horse racing, fantasy sports, and other industries already excluded.
The exclusion of state lotteries comes as little surprise, making yesterdays letter from the Democratic Governor’s Association nearly a moot point. The other carve outs fall in line with the belief that the bill is spearheaded by Sheldon Adelson. Adelson declared war on the online poker industry late last year and has been lobbying hard in efforts to secure a federal iGaming ban.
The bill was introduced in both the House and the Senate. The Senate version was introduced by Sen. Graham and is co-sponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte, Diane Feinstein and Mike Lee. Rep. Chaffetz introduced the House Bill and the bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith, Jim Matheson, Tulsi Gabbard, Jim Jordan, Emanuel Cleaver, George Holding, Trent Franks, James Lankford and George Holding.
The Las Vegas Sun reported on Tuesday that Nevada Senators Dean Heller and Harry Reid are already working on a bill that would shore up the Wire Act and leave an exemption for online poker. With the introduction of the RAWA bill, some feel that a compromise bill could be drafted.
Considering that Adelson is likely the driving force behind the RAWA bill, it seems unlikely that a compromise bill will be drafted. However, we should get a better idea of just how many members of Congress side with Adelson and his lobbyists and how many are open to the idea of legalizing online poker.