After the midterm elections in January 2015, for which the Republican Party was able to gain control of the U.S. Senate, the Adelson camp had nurtured high hopes that the bill for the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA)” will be heard and passed during the Congress lame duck session.
However, contrary to expectations held by the Adelson group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) and even those who believed that crony capitalism will prevail, Congress decided not to include RAWA in the remaining days of the lame duck session.
Introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in the House of Representatives and by Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) in the Senate, the RAWA bill proposes to amend the Wire Act of 1961 by including a prohibition against online spots betting in the coverage of the sports betting ban. The law, after all, was created before online gambling came into the foreground as a practical and economical method of engaging on betting activities.
Since Adelson is openly a staunch supporter and donor to the Republican Party’s coffers, the passing of the RAWA bill seemed like an imminent possibility. Adelson’s main anti-online gambling lobbyist Andy Abboud already claimed that something would happen this year or next year, because the “die is cast” and that the “cake is baked.”
The speculation going around was that the proposed law that would serve as a vehicle to prohibit online gambling for good would be part of an omnibus bill. An omnibus bill is a legislation document that contains several proposed laws covering diverse and unrelated topics packaged as a single bill, and put forward as a single item for legislative voting. Accordingly, it was the same approach used to put into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act (UIGEA) in 2006. Yet back then, Internet-based gambling was an incomprehensible issue.
In what is regarded as an unexpected turn of events, the RAWA bill was denied for inclusion in the remaining lame duck sessions of 2014. Twelve conservative groups banded together to oppose the RAWA bill by writing to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Rep. John Boehner and House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The letter, signed by the leaders of the twelve conservative groups, expressed concerns over the RAWA Bill as something more than what it purports to be; a “simple fix” to the 53-year old Wire Act on sports betting.
The leaders called on Congress to support them in opposing the RAWA bill, regardless of the House and Senate leaders’ views about online gambling. The letter stated that although the RAWA proposal is an attempt to include online sports betting to the federal sports betting ban, the real purpose in recommending the passing of the bill is to remove every U.S. state’s authority to legalize and regulate online gambling in their respective jurisdiction, as granted under the directive of the 10th Amendment.
The 12 opposing conservative groups include, the Americans for Tax Reform, American Conservative Union, American Consumer Institute, Campaign for Liberty, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Institute for Liberty, Our America Initiative, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Digital Liberty, Center for Individual Freedom, Institute for Policy Innovation and Center for Freedom and Prosperity.