Anti-Online Gambling Legislation May Get Sneaked Into Appropriations for FY 2018

Over the past several years, online gambling in the United States has been a topic of contention between one group of very powerful people and another group of very powerful people. The war about the legalization or federal criminalization of this type of activity has even drawn massive business corporations with massive influence in the global gambling industry.

And one particular person has been mentioned repeatedly in relation to US iGaming. Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has long been among the staunchest supporters of the idea for the implementation of an online gambling ban at the federal level. Here it is also important to note that the billionaire businessman was the person behind the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a legislative piece that calls for the restoration of the Federal Wire Act 1961.

Being among the biggest sponsors of the Republican Party, Mr. Adelson has been using his influence to find support for his effort among US legislators. Different lawmakers have tried to present RAWA, as it is commonly referred to, to the Congress, but without much success for now.

Reports have emerged recently that RAWA supporters may try once again to sneak the legislative piece into the US Legislature in the coming weeks.

According to non-profit think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, Rep. Charlie Dent, a long-time online gambling opponent, will tack RAWA onto the Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2018.

RAWA has never went any further than getting several hearings over the years. However, lawmaking is an unpredictable endeavor with unpredictable people engaged in it, so we never know whether and when the piece may get enough support to advance.

Rep. Dent and his Senate colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham took a similar course of action last year. It was Sen. Graham who inserted RAWA into 2017 Appropriations discussions. Rep. Dent did the same, but then withdrew the anti-online gambling language due to lack of any substantial interest.

Several US states have been trying to legalize iGaming over the past several months and it seems that Pennsylvania and Illinois may be entering the home stretch. Both states are in a desperate need for new revenue streams and lawmakers have proposed tax proceeds from online gambling as one such stream. If RAWA gets any attention, this could complicate iGaming legalization efforts significantly.

What Does RAWA Call For?

Under the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 all betting and wagering businesses that use wire communication for receiving bets are illegal. Later on, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act 2006 made all forms of iGaming illegal in the US. A 2011 decision by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel clarified that the Wire Act still applied to remote sports betting, but online gaming, poker included, was excluded. Thus, it became up to individual states whether they would legalize Internet gambling or not. Generally speaking, RAWA wants to null that 2011 ruling.