The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the bill that seeks to prohibit online gambling in the US at a federal level, and would trammel individual states’ rights to regulate online poker if they chose to do so, has once again been foiled.
RAWA died a slow death in the legislature at the end of last year, not for the first time. But undeterred, the failed presidential candidate and main Senate sponsor of RAWA, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), attempted to sneak something very similar to a gargantuan Senate appropriations bill in the hope that no one would notice.
It was just one tiny paragraph of a 141-page bill, and it stated:
Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However, beginning in 2011, certain states began to permit Internet gambling. The Committee notes that the Wire Act did not change in 2011. The Committee also notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘criminal laws are for courts, not for the Government, to construe.
He may have got away with it, too; if we hadn’t been living in a democracy.
In order for the ruse to work, it would have had to be surreptitiously slipped into the House of Representatives’ version of the bill also.
To give Adelson and his cronies their due, they did try, and the man charged with this task was Representative Charlie Dent.
Dent seemed like a safe pair of hands because he has had previous experience in sneaking anti-gambling bills through the legislature. He was the co-author, in 2006, of the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, legislation that became the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prohibited US financial from processing online poker transactions.
Shamefully, he helped to slip UIGEA, at the zero hour, into the unrelated Safe Ports Act, a bill that wasn’t about gambling at all, but instead a series of measures designed to increase security at US ports.
This time, he was not so successful. RAWA is unpopular on Capitol Hill for its infringements on states’ rights and because of the perception of crony capitalism that will follow it everywhere because of the Adelson connection, and Dent ultimately failed to convince the House that the amendment should be added to the bill and accepted defeat.
“Ultimately, Dent withdraws his amendment,” tweeted the Poker Players Alliance, whose tireless efforts in tracking RAWA through every political maneuver deserves huge recognition. “Equivalent as a failure. We win. RAWA loses! Thank you for taking action to defeat this effort!”
RAWA may be defeated once again, but it will not go away, at least until more populous states like California and Pennsylvania opt to regulate. In the meantime, we all remain vigilant.