New York State Dems Tell Congress to Shut Down RAWA Approval

May 15th, 2015 | by Kaycee James
Let NY Play RAWA New York State online poker

Let NY Play, a campaign that started last year, has led to the introduction of online poker bills and RAWA pushbacks among Democratic state senators in New York. (Image: thepokerdb.com)

RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, is a polarizing bill that is seeking to restore the Wire Act to its pre-2011 interpretation and effectively ban all forms of Internet wagering.

The measure has largely divided politicians, and now one more group has cast its straw in the direction that the bill needs to be shot down.

The New York State Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of five state senators who remain independent from the Democrat Party, wrote a letter this week to its congressional delegation asking them to vote against RAWA and any other legislation that would aim to ban the transmission of betting through the Internet.

A New York Daily News report revealed a letter from the group stating RAWA would hamper the state’s “ability to determine for itself what forms of gambling are authorized within the state, a right which New York and every other state has historically exercised.”

Preaching to the Choir

The IDC letter is requesting that New York’s congressional delegation oppose RAWA, but to date none have supported such anti-gaming legislation. In fact, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was partially responsible for ending RAWA in the Senate when the Judiciary Committee he’s a part of failed to hold a hearing on the bill.

Though Schumer has suggested that trying to regulate the Internet is like the “wild west,” he isn’t opposed to online poker, at least publicly. Neither is Schumer’s fellow colleague, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who hasn’t revealed her views on the subject.

Of the 26 US House of Representatives members from New York, not one co-sponsored HR 707, the House version of RAWA. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the author of the bill, attracted 16 others to sign the legislation, but no one from the Empire State.

When the House Judiciary Committee held its own hearing on RAWA, committee members Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) didn’t even show up.

The inactivity among New York’s congressional delegation as it relates to online poker and gambling doesn’t mean the senators and representatives are for its legalization, but it does seem to prove they won’t be rushing to vote for RAWA.

New Year, New Bill

Last year, “Let NY Play” was founded as an alliance to push for legalized online poker.

“Responsible, adult New Yorkers should be able to play online poker just like our friends in New Jersey and other states,” its mission reads.

The social media strategy worked, with State Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-District 89) and Sen. John Bonacic (R-District 42) introducing a bill last May, although the legislation was ultimately unsuccessful.

Bonacic brought another online poker bill to the Senate on Wednesday, and it’s quite similar to last year’s version. The purpose of the bill is to grant the New York State Gaming Commission the ability “to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of Internet poker which require a significant degree of skill.”

Whether 2015 will be a riper time for its passage is unknown, but this week’s developments seem to hint that lawmakers in New York are more on the side of legalizing online gambling than banning it.

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