Anti-online Gambling Bill Introduced In CongressMarch 27, 2014 4:56 pm
Yesterday, two identical federal anti-online gambling bills were introduced to Congress, one in The House of Representatives and the other in the Senate. If passed the so-called ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act’ (RAWA) will place a ban on all types of online gambling in the United States. The bills were introduced to the two legislative bodies of Congress by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), with Senator Graham explaining during a news conference:
“The attorney general’s office in my view made a huge legal misstep, and those of us in Congress who are worried about the effect of online gambling are going to push back. Those who think it’s a good idea will have their say.”
The RAWA has received the full backing of staunch anti-online gambling proponents Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. Ironically, however, a number of online gambling activities have received exemptions, leading to accusations of favouritism. Online lottery sales, for instance, will be permitted, perhaps because of significant resistance expected from states heavily dependent on its revenues, while online gambling on fantasy sports and horse racing will also be permitted.
On the other hand, the bill seeks to ban internet poker, even in the states of Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, which already operate regulated online poker industries. Therefore, the ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act’ is expected to experience significant opposition from online gambling interest groups, not least Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) and the state’s Governor Brian Sandoval. Commenting on his opposition to the bill, Sandoval stated:
“Gaming regulation is the responsibility of state government. Nevada has performed this function for decades and maintains an experienced, sophisticated and respected regulatory structure. This legislation would infringe upon states’ rights and attempt to undermine existing state law.”
For this reason, it is believed the Senate may seek to offer a compromise bill in the future which has a poker carve-out is included. Nevertheless, online gambling supporters are questioning the validity of shutting down the USA’s nascent igaming industry, when potential revenues will simply continue to flow into the coffers of unregulated, offshore operators.