Chaffetz Will Seek to Advance Federal Internet Gambling Ban Again

Jason Chaffetz pushing RAWA in the House Again
Jason Chaffetz pushing RAWA in the House Again

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) plans to hold hearings in December in the House Oversight Committee he chairs on Sheldon Adelson’s pet political cause, the so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) that would federally ban internet-based gambling in all states. The bill, which appears to lack support despite Chaffetz’s previous efforts, is also sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the Senate.

The driving force behind RAWA is Las Vegas Sands casino owner Sheldon Adelson, who donated nearly $100 million to Republican candidates in 2012 and has created an AstroTurf anti-gambling group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG). Somehow, the curse of internet-based gambling in many of the other states, that they wanted federally banned, is unacceptable to those who run casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Adelson’s RAWA is also once again backed by some state Attorneys General, who have sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee chairmen and ranking members in the House and Senate urging them to support and help enact the bill to federally ban internet-based gambling. Missouri AG Chris Koster and South Carolina AG Alan Wilson have in the past urged the Congressional delegations of their states to support RAWA. While Wilson strongly argued that the Supreme Court’s activist decision to legalize same-sex marriage violates the Tenth Amendment by over-turning state laws on that issue, he quickly forgets this principle by supporting the RAWA bill that would likewise overturn state laws on internet-based gambling.

The RAWA bill has gained little support on Capitol Hill, and has had strong opposition from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Campaign for Liberty. Additionally, several grass-roots conservative and liberty-oriented groups have lobbied Congress urging them to defeat RAWA and any similar efforts to federally ban or regulate internet-based gambling.

The right of states to regulate internet-based gambling, or even define what they consider to be gambling online, under the Tenth Amendment, remains truly in danger if RAWA has any chance of making it through the legislate process of both Houses of Congress. Some politicians, such as presidential candidate Jeb Bush, believes that one-day fantasy sports leagues, such as FanDuel and DraftKings, should be considered illegal gambling and subject to regulation or ban by legislation such as RAWA. While Chaffetz has taken his marching orders from Adelson, who says it’s okay to exempt sites like FanDuel and DraftKings from RAWA, it is not clear yet that state regulation of these activities will prevail until the federal attempts to ban them are stopped.

There is only one winner, aside from Sheldon Adelson, if RAWA is enacted, and that is the federal government and its appetite for ever growing control over all the states and all Americans who live in them. That is why so many citizens, conservative and liberty-oriented groups have strongly opposed Sheldon Adelson’s AstroTurf effort to get RAWA passed into law. The politicians are listening, which is why RAWA has little support in Congress, because as always, when the people stand up and lead, the politicians will follow.


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