Conservatives Should Oppose the Adelson/Chaffetz Effort to Ban Internet Gambling

Rep. Chaffetz and Sheldon Adelson, key backers of RAWA
Rep. Chaffetz and Sheldon Adelson, key backers of RAWA

Limited government and strong support of the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution are some of the key principles advocated by conservatives. Many conservatives are also morally opposed to individuals partaking in the practice of gambling, such as that popular in some states at casinos. The conflict between those values and the principles of federalism are raised when states like Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have enacted laws legalizing state-regulated gambling on the internet, while Hawaii and Utah have passed laws to ban it in their states. But being supporters of limited government first, especially at the federal level, conservatives should recognize that the Tenth Amendment should trump over their desire to federal regulate gambling, and this should be left to the states to regulate and legislate whether gambling, on the internet and otherwise, will be legal in the individual states.

This issue will be on trial in Congress next week before the House Oversight Committee, in a hearing titled “A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications.” The campaign to federally ban internet-based gambling by passing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) is supported by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), a group heavily funded and supported by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. RAWA is strongly supported Adelson, who views internet-based gambling as a threat to his brick-and-mortar casinos.

The hearing will feature hysterical claims and scare tactics about internet-based gambling including claims it will allow rampant money laundering, financing of terrorism, fraud, and other criminal activity. Yet you are unlikely to hear next week where these threats are very real, from the off-shore illegal gambling that neither our states nor our federal government have any control over.

Online gambling sites legalized and regulated at the state level will be free of such criminal activities, because their operators will employ technology to protect the web sites and their users from all of those illegal activities.

RAWA, and next week’s hearing before the House Oversight Committee chaired by Chaffetz, has support from Chaffetz and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who have received strong financial support from Adelson, who seeks to ban state-based internet gambling because he views it as competition for his brick-and-mortar casinos in Las Vegas. Conservatives should oppose Washington politicians seeks to violate the Tenth Amendment to support the financial interests of Adelson, and should oppose this campaign to federal ban internet-based gambling.

At a time when there are so many real threats to the American people that Congress should be concerned with, our politicians should skip the attempt to overturn states laws and regulations via a federal ban on internet-based gambling, and should instead focus on the key issues on which the American people sent them to Washington to address.

Conservatives should support the grass-roots opposition from many conservative and liberty-oriented citizen groups that strongly oppose RAWA and any effort to federally ban internet gambling in all states.

The hearing next week will be a key test of Conservatives in Congress, a chance to show their constituents they are in Washington to abide by the Constitution, uphold the Tenth Amendment, and protect the rights of the people and the states to decide their own legislation and regulation of state-based gambling free of federal intervention. Conservatives should embrace federalism and oppose Washington politicians who place the interests of a billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate above those of the American people.


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