The Return of RAWA Has Been Met With Fierce Opposition

U.S. CapitolRepresentative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) reintroduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) on February 4, 2015; an anti-online gambling bill most observers believe was crafted by Sheldon Adelson. Less than a week later the bill has been roundly rebuked, with no less than four political groups voicing their opposition to RAWA over this short span of time.

And then there are the dozens of groups and individuals who opposed RAWA in 2014, ranging from former Presidential candidate Ron Paul to the extremely powerful Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.

Much of the opposition from conservative and libertarian groups stems from their state’s rights ideology, since intrastate gambling decisions have historically been made at the state level. Because of this, they see RAWA as a 10th Amendment violation, and federal government overreach.

A number of critics have also voiced their displeasure with the apparent game of quid pro quo politics that is taking place between Sheldon Adelson and his allies in Congress. Some mention Adelson by name as they decry crony capitalism, while others merely refer to RAWA’s benefactor as a Las Vegas casino billionaire who happens to be lining the campaign coffers of Republican candidates, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Graham introduced RAWA into the Senate in 2014 and plans to reintroduce the bill this year, and spent a good deal of his allotted time grilling Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on the Wire Act in a recent confirmation hearing.

American Conservative Union

Among the groups that have denounced RAWA is the American Conservative Union (ACU).

ACU Executive Director Dan Schneider had this to say of RAWA and its sponsor in the House of Representatives, Jason Chaffetz:

“Jason Chaffetz is a good conservative with an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 94 percent. However, we are disappointed that on this issue he is taking the side of big government. Conservatives don’t have to agree on the value of gambling, but we should agree that it is unwise to use the brute force of the federal government to try to stop states from making their own decisions on this activity, especially if the reason for this action is to support gambling entrepreneurs in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for them, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas; it should be up to the states to determine if they want to reject or accept Vegas.”

Campaign for Liberty

Ron Paul’s organization, the Campaign for Liberty (C4L) is another group strongly opposing RAWA.

C4L President John Tate “strongly opposes” the reintroduction of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, according to a C4L press release. In the statement Tate said of RAWA:

“This legislation would institute a federal ban on online gambling and trample on the United States Constitution, which leaves the states with the authority to regulate matters not specifically given to the federal government.”

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) called RAWA an, “unwise and unnecessary federal power grab that stinks of cronyism,” in a statement released just after RAWA had been reintroduced. TPA also questioned why RAWA included carveouts [horseracing and fantasy sports], or what it called, “special treatment to certain industry groups,” which TPA referred to as an “extra piece of crony favoritism that makes this extremely troubling legislation.”

The TPA also invited Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas on their weekly podcast to discuss RAWA.

Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has been one of the most vocal critics of a federal online gambling ban over the past two years, and CEI’s Michelle Minton was among the first to speak out against RAWA 2015 – which is nothing more than a carbon copy of RAWA 2014.

Minton worked tirelessly to defeat RAWA last year, most notably by penning an excellent and authoritative paper refuting Adelson and company’s claims, and describing precisely what the 1961 Wire Act was designed to do.

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