Another Sneaky Attempt to Ban State Regulated Online Gaming?

A letter being circulated on Capitol Hill by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) asks the the Department of Justice (DOJ) to unilaterally, without any involvement from Congress, ban state-regulated online gaming by changing the 2011 interpretation of the federal Wire Act of 1961. If Attorney General Jeff Sessions were to hand down an interpretation that the Wire Act prohibits all 50 states from allowing regulated online gaming, as Rep. Fitzpatrick reportedly is asking, it would impose a federal ban in all 50 states. States that allow and prohibit online gaming would have their laws overturned, in violation of the Tenth Amendment, by one unilateral action of the federal DOJ. Even Rep. Fitzpatrick’s own state of Pennsylvania would be undermined in its effort to allow online gaming.

Banning state-regulated online gaming has for years been the personal goal of one billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson. Having donated tens of millions to Republican candidates for Congress and the Senate, Adelson has sought to federally ban states from allowing online gaming in order to protect the financial viability of his brick-and-mortar casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Adelson’s million in political donations have bought him many attempts from Senators and members of Congress to push through this “crony capitalist” benefit protecting his casinos from competition by online casinos.

Rep. Fitzpatrick joins Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) and his brother, former Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, who represented the same district in Congress as Brian Fitzpatrick, in pursuing this issue on behalf of Adelson. Rep. Dent is reportedly trying to sneak RAWA into law by inserting it into one of the major spending bills Congress must pass before the end of this year. In 2016, Michael Fitzpatrick introduced HR 6543, a bill almost almost identical to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) that was introduced in Congress in 2014 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Both Rep. Fitzpatrick and his former Congressman brother are well connected to Mr. Adelson. As Jessica Welman, writing for Play Pennsylvania reports, during the 2012 election, the Republican Jewish Coalition held campaign events in Pennsylvania to support Fitzpatrick and other members of Congress. Adelson was a major contributor to these events.

When Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick opted to not seek re-election in 2016, his brother Brian Fitzpatrick ran for and got elected from the same district that year. The letter reportedly circulated by Rep. Fitzpatrick asks the DOJ to overturn the gaming laws of all 50 states to federally ban state-regulated online gaming to protect the financial interests of one billionaire casino owner. That one billionaire also happens to have donated gigantic sums of money to Republican candidates for federal office as well as several Republican Super PACs that support those candidates.

This latest effort by Rep. Fitzpatrick, like all the previous efforts to advance RAWA and bills like it, needs to be defeated. The right of the states to decide whether to allow or ban online gaming is clear under the Tenth Amendment. These members of Congress, including Rep. Fitzpatrick, have taken an oath to abide by and uphold the Constitution of our great country, and they need to do just that by making sure any effort to federally overturn the online gaming laws of the 50 states is stopped.

The desires, and protection of the financial interests, of one billionaire casino owner, should not trump the Constitutional rights of all 50 states and the American people that live in them.


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