The Restoration of America’s Wire Act’s Congressional hearing is now scheduled for March 24. The Sheldon Adelson-backed bill, which was reintroduced to the House by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in January, will be debated in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
The online gambling industry need not panic just yet, however; there have been numerous hearings on the issue of online gambling in the House in the past.
The last one was in December 2013, just after New Jersey launched its online gambling industry, and LVS representatives fared badly there, failing to advance their point as their arguments were shot down as hypocritical.
In fact, both sides of the political spectrum are united in their dislike of RAWA. It has been decried as cronyism by both Republicans and Democrats while its impingement on states’ rights alienates many of Adelson’s traditional allies in the Republican Party.
And as RAWA’s prohibition of online gambling extends to online lotteries, it faces opposition not just from the three states that have chosen to regulate online gambling and poker, but also from the 12 states that currently offer some form of online lottery sales, as well as the dozen or so more that are debating whether to do so.
Meanwhile, the bill’s various proponents have not been aiding the matter this month. Andy Abboud, Senior Vice-President of Government Relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, one of those representatives roasted at the 2013 House hearing, recently suggested in an interview with Gambling Compliance that Adelson is “unlikely to accept exemptions for state lotteries and tribes in a bill to prohibit Internet gambling.”
Not only is this statement breathtaking in its arrogance and deluded misapprehension that an unelected casino owner has any right to shape public policy, but it’s also an enormous slip of the tongue: an admission that RAWA is written and dictated by Adelson and his lobbyists.
Meanwhile, Chaffetz, who, via a leap of logic, claimed that RAWA is a “states’ rights position,” further inflamed relations between state lottery officials during a conference call recently. According to gambling attorney Mark Hichar, who participated in the call, Chaffetz told around 20 state lottery officials that if they didn’t like RAWA they should just get their own bill.
“It seemed very odd that you would expect a state to file federal legislation to enable it to be able to conduct gaming in its borders,” said Hichar “I found that statement to be surprisingly aggressive.”
Meanwhile, the bill is sponsored in the Senate by Lindsey Graham, who admitted this week that he had never sent an email in his life, which may suggest he is ill-equipped to dictate US policy on e-commerce.
The forthcoming House hearing may be stacked in favor of the anti-online gambling movement, but considering what a good job they are doing of discrediting themselves at the moment, that may be no bad thing.