Adelson Backed Online Gambling Ban Reintroduced in Congress

Sheldon AdelsonRepresentative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has reintroduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill seeking to ban most forms of online gambling, including poker.

The 2015 version of RAWA is seemingly unchanged from the 2014 version, which was also introduced by Chaffetz in the House of Representatives, as well as by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the United States Senate.

In 2014 RAWA was referred to the Judiciary Committee in both the House and Senate, where it went relatively unmentioned until the Lame Duck session following the 2014 mid-term elections, when the bill suddenly became the talk of the town. Despite never holding a hearing on the bill, there were rampant rumors that Congress might attach RAWA to the trillion-dollar CRomnibus spending bill, but these efforts eventually failed.

The Adelson connection

Sheldon Adelson is widely believed to be the driving force behind RAWA, and the billionaire casino mogul was reportedly in Washington DC earlier this year where he reportedly had a private meeting with the Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, a group that includes Jason Chaffetz.

After reintroducing RAWA, Chaffetz will be in Las Vegas this weekend for a conference, and (coincidentally) will be staying at one of Sheldon Adelson’s properties, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s DC reporter Steve Tetreault:

Is a Senate version in the works?

Lindsey Graham hasn’t reintroduced RAWA into the Senate for the 2015 legislative session, but the potential 2016 presidential candidate did grill Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on the topic during a recent confirmation hearing, signaling his support of an online gambling ban hasn’t tapered off.

If Graham is planning to mount a presidential campaign it wouldn’t hurt to have Sheldon Adelson’s deep pockets in your corner, and pushing one of Adelson’s pet projects through the Senate would likely garner some favor.

Adelson’s backing of Graham has increased in recent years, as he and his wife contributed the maximum allowable by law to Graham in 2013 (they actually exceeded that amount, sending Graham $7,800 each; Graham refunded them each $2,600), and Adelson also hosted a $1,000 per plate fundraiser for Graham in April of 2013.

Prior to these campaign contributions in 2013, Adelson had written the Graham campaign a single $2,300 check back in 2008 according to ThinkProgress.com.

Graham introduced RAWA into the Senate in March of 2014; it was his first public statement regarding online gambling.

PPA “condemns” RAWA

As soon as Rep. Chaffetz announced his intentions to reintroduce the bill the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) released a statement denouncing the bill as crony capitalism.

The PPA statement didn’t mince words, as it, “condemns the reintroduction of legislation introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to ban state legislatures from authorizing and regulating Internet poker and other forms of Internet betting across the U.S.”

Campaign for Liberty “strongly opposes” RAWA

The PPA is certainly not alone in this fight. A number of groups opposed RAWA in 2014, including the libertarian group, Campaign for Liberty.

C4L issued another rebuke following the reintroduction of the bill on Wednesday, emphasizing the lack of support RAWA received from “Members of Congress and the American people.” C4L was also quick to point out who would benefit from an online gambling ban:

“The RAWA however, does have the support of one Las Vegas billionaire, who would stand to benefit financially from a federal ban limiting competition in the gambling industry.”

C4L President John Tate using even harsher language, and urged C4L members to contact their legislators:

“Some in the GOP must think the American people are stupid. After successfully selling the American people on taking the United States in a new direction, members of the GOP think one of its first legislative priorities should be to limit economic freedom, impose top-down federal regulations, and expand the surveillance state.

“This is not just an issue that should concern those who like to gamble, but all Americans who value state sovereignty, free markets, and a free and open Internet.

“I urge Campaign for Liberty members and all Americans who value Internet freedom and free markets, even if they don’t gamble, to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose the ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act.’”

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