RAWA, or the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, is once again making its way to Congress.
First introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on March 26, 2014, the legislation seeks to amend the federal criminal code in order to ban state-regulated online gambling.
The act was passed over last December during the lame-duck congressional approval of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending budget.
However, this week US Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) gave new life to the measure by reintroducing it to the House, with Graham expected to bring it back into the Senate in the coming weeks.
Scheduled for a March 5th hearing by the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, RAWA’s own restoration shouldn’t come as a surprise as the statute is being highly pushed by billionaire Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson.
With pockets deeper than the economies of most small countries, the 81-year-young Adelson is worth over $30 billion, and when it comes to campaign contributions, he’s ready to open his wallet. A longtime staunch supporter of the GOP, and with the 2016 presidential election right around the corner, the Republican leadership is making sure it satisfies the wishes of one of its wealthiest backers.
When you’re worth $30 billion, you tend to get what you want, and Sheldon wants RAWA to be passed and online gambling to be outlawed. “I am wiling to spend whatever it takes. My moral standard compels me to speak out on the issue… I don’t see any compelling reason for the government to allow people to gamble on the Internet,” Adelson recently said.
There are many sides to online gambling, and Adelson’s ownership of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation certainly influences his position. Although some GOP leaders are against RAWA, the GOP brass is making sure Adelson remains happy with its party. Last March at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Adelson hosted leading candidates Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and John Kasich at his Venetian resort to discuss political strategy.
With more states beginning to consider its own legalization of online gambling and iGaming’s popularity continuing to rise, the RAWA hearing is expected to be nothing more than a formality due to strong opposition. While the majority of Democrats seem rather antagonistic to jumping on-board anything Adelson-related, many Republicans are also opposed to RAWA.
Former presidential candidate and Texas US representative Ron Paul called RAWA an act of “crony capitalism.”
Grover Norquist, a powerful political GOP advocate and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, threatened lawmakers a vote for RAWA would downgrade their individual rating.
The Republican Governors Association recently sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requesting more regulatory authority be given back to governors instead of the federal government.
The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations certainly has more pressing topics of concern than online gambling. ISIS is slaughtering innocent civilians in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Violent extremism continues to rise in the Middle East and around the world, but here at home our committee is taking up the issue of online gambling. But then again, when you’re worth $30 billion, you tend to get what you want.