Attorney Generals Distribute Letter to Colleagues Advocating RAWA

November 8th, 2015 | by Brian Corlisse
Chris Koster attorney generals RAWA

Missouri’s Chris Koster, one of two attorney generals authoring a letter seeking support for RAWA, is also likely to run for his state’s governorship next year. (Image: missourinet.com)

The attorney generals from Missouri and South Carolina have come together in support of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the anti-online gambling measure that has been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Writing a letter distributed to all 50 state attorney generals, Missouri’s Chris Koster (D) and South Carolina’s Alan Wilson (R) request that “each of you sign-on … in supporting Congressional clarification that Internet gambling is prohibited by the Wire Act.”

An attached draft letter seeking the signatures of the attorney generals and addressed to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees states, “We fear that if RAWA is not adopted we will see a return to the wild west of Internet gambling.”

The memo was first circulated on October 19 and came with a signing deadline of October 30. Handled by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), it’s unclear how many attorney generals actually signed the petition.

Poker Exception

Koster and Wilson’s letter went largely undetected by media agencies as the internal document made its away around the country. That was until the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) caught wind of the inner workings.

“Let’s be clear that RAWA does nothing to stop unregulated Internet gambling in the United States and in fact, only makes it harder for America’s law enforcement to protect vulnerable consumers,” PPA Executive Director John Pappas said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the author of RAWA in the House, recently conceded that daily fantasy sports (DFS) is free of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, saying “there were already carve outs in place” for sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.

PPA VP of Player Relations Rich Muny argues the same holds true for poker.

Muny tweeted at Chaffetz, “You noted DFS’s UIGEA carveout. Instate #poker has two: UIGEA (2006) and the #TenthAmendment (1791).”

DFS is free of UIGEA because the contests are claimed to have elements of skill. Poker advocates contend that view should also apply to the card game. Florida Senator and RAWA co-sponsor Marco Rubio even hinted last week that a carve out for poker might make the legislation more reasonable.

Not Down With DOJ

Koster and Wilson argue a 2011 Department of Justice opinion cleared the way for states to legalize online gambling, the DOJ ruling that the Wire Act pertains to online sports betting but not general casino games.

Gambling certainly comes with consequences, many of the games including poker can lead to problem gambling for those prone to addiction. But the two also argue the costs of legalizing online casinos come with much graver repercussions.

“DOJ’s revised interpretation of the Wire Act opened the door to expansive Internet gambling and has had significant negative impacts on our states from money laundering to exploitation of children to helping finance terrorist organizations,” Koster and Wilson said.

Former Senator Ron Paul disagrees. “Supporters of the bill claim that online gambling is controlled by criminals and terrorists.”

“This argument turns reality on its head,” Paul said last March. “If running online casinos is outlawed, only outlaws will run online casinos.”

With less than 20 session days left in the legislative calendar year, the RAWA discussion will continue into the New Year.

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