Sheldon Adelson Changes Course in Pursuit of RAWA Passage

September 29th, 2015 | by Jason Reynolds
Sheldon Adelson RAWA online poker ban

RAWA, aka the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, might be taking a backseat to a new plan being concocted by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson to waylay online gambling in the US. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty)

Sheldon Adelson doesn’t think you should be allowed to gamble online, and he’s on a mission to make sure lawmakers in Washington, DC, adhere to his point of view by pressuring politicians through the threat of discontinuing campaign contributions.

Worth an estimated $22.1 billion according the latest Forbes Richest list, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands casino empire has provided the 82-year-old with all of life’s riches. But the magnate who has done pretty well making money for himself in casinos doesn’t think anyone should be playing online.

“My moral standard compels me to speak out on this issue,” Adelson told the Washington Post in 2013. “I don’t see any compelling reason for the government to allow people to gamble on the Internet.”

RAWA Redesign

The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) is a bill that has been introduced in Congress by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). RAWA would prohibit all forms of online betting and would preempt any state law, meaning Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware would all be forced to discontinue iGaming operations in the unlikely event this measure is ever actually passed by Congress and becomes a federal law.

RAWA has been similar to many other one-sided bills in Congress, dragging its feet and loitering in the United States Capitol with little tangible action. The proposition’s saunter has led Adelson to rethink his course of action, now reportedly urging lawmakers to call for an iGambling “freeze” while the federal government reviews the worthiness of legalizing Internet poker and gambling.

A temporary hold on further states passing legislation could end up being lengthy should Adelson get his way. Interest in the topic of iGambling is expected to grow as the 2016 race heats up and politicians scramble for Adelson’s dollars.

“I just can’t image any circumstances under which this will not be a major part of the 2016 election cycle in finding out where candidates stand on it from our point of view,” Andy Abboud, Adelson’s right-hand man on all things related to government policy said recently. “So as the election gets closer and 2016 draws closer, we’re just going to make our opinions more pronounced.”

We believe that.

Lottery Freeze Unknown

RAWA wouldn’t just reverse the law in the three states with legalized iGambling and shut down the American side of the industry; it would also outlaw online lottery ticket sales. More than a dozen states currently offer lottery services on the Internet and it’s unclear whether Adelson’s latest tactics will affect those arrangements.

Online lottery sales have hurt convenience store owners, who rely heavily on income received from live ticket purchases. Regardless, authors of RAWA legislation have hinted that they would be open to make an amendment to allow Internet lottery sales to continue.

Andrew Quinlan, president of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, believes the entire bill is downright erroneous. Writing in a letter last week to Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and the House Judiciary Committee, Quinlan said “RAWA is an outright assault on federalism.”

His comments followed up on his remarks in August that a “federal government powerful enough to ban gambling by the states could be powerful enough to one day force it on the states.”

It remains to be seen whether a billionaire of Adelson’s stature is powerful enough to force an online gambling prohibition on the people. But right now, we’re taking unders.


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