online gambling

Chaffetz Hearing for Federal Online Gambling Ban a Total Failure

In an effort to promote a federal ban on internet-based gambling, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) opened a hearing recently titled A Casino in Every Smartphone - Law Enforcement Implications. The hearing, before the House Oversight Committee that Rep. Chaffetz chairs, not only failed to make the case for his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), it also made a strong case against the bill. Members of Congress of both parties, as well as the witnesses Chaffetz invited to the hearing, gave strong testimony in favor of legal and regulated in-state online gambling.

Rep. Chaffetz opened the hearing making a statement about how RAWA would supposedly restore what he claims is the previous interpretation of the Wire Act against online gambling that he says was overturned by the interpretation by the Office of Legal Counsel in December of 2011. Chaffetz, who is advancing RAWA on behalf of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, argued that legalized internet gambling in any states will make it impossible to prohibit it in any states, such as his own state of Utah, which has legislated against online gambling in that state.

Speaking about RAWA, which would effectively ban internet-based gambling in all states, Chaffetz quite absurdly stated, “I believe the piece of legislation that I introduced, Restoring America’s Wire Act, is a states’ rights bill.”

Freedom Groups Oppose RAWA as Assault on Federalism

It came up in last night’s GOP presidential debate, this issue of online fantasy sports sites and how — or if — those sites should be regulated as online gambling sites. Several conservative and liberty-oriented grass-roots organizations have already sent a letter to Congress urging the House Judiciary Committee to defeat an effort to impose federal regulations on gambling. That effort, called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill, is sponsored in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and in the Senate by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). RAWA is supported strongly by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has donated to the campaigns of the sponsors of the bill.

The coalition of groups, including the Campaign for Liberty, the Council of Citizens Against Government Waste and several others, sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to defeat RAWA.

The October 27, 2015 letter stated that RAWA “would trample the rights of states, open the door to regulation [of] the Internet and is a textbook example of cronyism. Over twenty conservative and liberty-minded organizations have voiced their opposition to the legislation. Recent news pertaining to fantasy sports sites like Fan Duel and Draft Kings speak strongly to the idea that this is better left to the states that tend to have tough regulatory schemes.”

Free Online Gambling!

Sheldon Adelson watches a lion dance. | AP Photo

Why is it Americans have a fear of gambling - whether on sports or card games?

Is it rooted in the Puritan roots of the American colonies? Is it in response to the Mafia control of Atlantic City and Las Vegas in 1950s? Are we afraid of a repeat of the Black Sox scandal or discovering another Pete Rose? Or is it simply the will of the country’s 11th richest man using
his own particular brand of cronyism to protect his empire?

Regardless of the roots of the gambling ban, it is past time to put this fear into the history bins - next to the laws against horseless carriages going no faster than 12 miles an hour. Just as innovation helped improve auto passenger safety, progress and innovation will help solve the irrational fear of online gambling.


Conservatives should oppose “preferential policymaking.” That includes crony bills backed by billionaire casino owners.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has been one of the most vocal critics of cronyism between politicians and special interests, laying out what he calls a “positive case for conservatism” that outlines policies and reforms that the political right supports rather than focusing so much on what it opposes.

“Freedom doesn’t divide us. Big government does. It’s big government that turns citizens into supplicants, capitalists into cronies, and cooperative communities into competing special interests,” Lee said at an April 2013 speech at the Heritage Foundation. “Freedom, by contrast, unites us. It pulls us together, and aligns our interests.”

Lee, who was elected in 2010 with strong Tea Party support, was talking about a problem that has long-plagued Republicans. The GOP is seen as the “party of big business,” one that kowtows to whatever its wealthy donors want them to do, including taxpayer-funded, market-distorting subsidies, bailouts, and competition-suppressing regulations.

“The first step in a true conservative reform agenda must be to end this kind of preferential policymaking,” Lee said. “Beyond simply being the right thing to do, it is a prerequisite for earning the moral authority and political credibility to do anything else.”

Lee is, of course, absolutely right. If conservatives want to change the perception of the Republican Party and the free-market philosophy, they have to take on the special interests that are using the political process for carve outs and to undermine competition.

Here we go again: Congress is trying to pick winners and losers in the marketplace

Sheldon Adelson

The bill introduced by one of the least popular Republican lawmakers, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, has been hit by a series of different sources that have been standing in opposition to the protectionist bill that would favor casinos over online gambling industry, putting the government yet again in the role of picking winners and losers.

A coalition of conservative groups has fired off a letter to congressional leaders in opposition to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would ban online gambling, calling the measure “a broad overreach by the federal government over matters traditionally reserved for the states.”

The legislation, S. 2159 and H.R. 4301, is backed by Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to Republicans such as Sen. Graham himself. The bill is also backed by a coalition he started that included what The Washington Post reported as an army of lawyers and lobbyists to make sure that the bill passes in both chambers.

When leaders of a certain industry come together with lawmakers, it means that the very existence of competitors could soon enough pose a risk. While making poorly constructed arguments in an attempt to win over some hearts and minds, Adelson could never make the moral or financial case to support the ban on online gambling.

Today in Liberty: Conservatives want Obamacare replacement vote, Bloomberg to spend $50 million on anti-gun group

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” — Thomas Jefferson

— House conservatives press for Obamacare replacement vote: Republican leaders suggested earlier this year that they would bring to the floor an Obamacare replacement bill, only to back away not long after. House conservatives are now pressing leadership to live up to the rhetoric and hold a vote on an alternative before the August recess. “At the end of the day, we feel it’s really important to bring a bill to the floor that is a true replacement to the president’s healthcare law,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told The Hill. “Look, leadership’s come a long way in the last six months on that, and we’re continuing to talk to them to try to get to a point where we actually have a vote on the House floor by the August recess.”

State legislatures push back against online gambling ban

online gambling

The proposal to ban online gambling introduced at the behest of casino owner and major Republican donor Sheldon Adelson has been met with opposition from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan group that serves legislators across the country.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the proposal, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301 and S. 2159), in their respective chambers at the end of March. While the supporters are making this out to be some sort of moral crusade, Adelson is using his money and influence to protect brick-and-mortar casinos from competition.

But the National Conference of State Legislatures is pushing back against the measure, telling federal lawmakers that regulation of online gambling should be left up to state lawmakers:

In a letter to lawmakers on Thursday, the bipartisan group said the push would amount to the federal government usurping the role of the states to decide the legality of gambling online.

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