Grassroots Organizations Write Letter Against RAWA Online Gambling Ban

Posted on December 11, 2016 - Last Updated on March 6, 2017
[toc]The onslaught of letters to legislators about the future of the Wire Act continued with a new letter from six lobbying organizations.

The letter is directed to Texas Rep. John Culberson and authored by the following groups:

The letter calls for a strong opposition to any anti-online gaming legislation like the Sheldon Adelson-backed Restoration of the Wire Act (RAWA).

It comes hot on the heels of a pro-RAWA letter from ten states’ attorneys general and a pro-online letter from Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), both of which were sent to members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

How are these groups related?

The six groups on this later letter have a variety of causes they individually champion.

As they explain in the letter, they are all “a free-market, limited-government, and freedom-oriented organizations” in strong opposition to federal legislation of online gaming.

The letter addresses how RAWA and similar measures affect each of the three causes they list within the text of the letter.

1. Free market

RAWA and other bills seek to explicitly expand the Wire Act to cover all forms of online gambling.

If that happens, online poker in states where it is expressly legal and operational already (Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey) will be shut down. It will also affect any state lotteries that incorporate online sales and daily fantasy sports.

The impact on these various industries troubles the groups, who wrote the following:

“If passed, such language would affect the ability of millions of Americans to buy online lottery tickets, play daily fantasy sports and, most troubling, opens the door for federal interference in other state legislative matters.

It may be online gambling today, but tomorrow it may be regulation of gun and ammunitions sales—a long time goal of gun control advocates.”

2. Limited government

Many online gaming proponents used to advocate for a federal approach to online gaming legislation. The state-by-state route has been far more successful.

As a result, many advocates of online gambling staunchly defend and protect states’ rights. None of the groups in the letters are specifically pro-online casinos. There are several focused on keeping federal government small, though.

The letter points out the need to keep the decision in the hands of the states. It also calls out previous failed attempts to pass RAWA as examples of how futile it is to even explore the option:

“Earlier attempts to pass federal gambling prohibitions were met with strong bipartisan opposition in Congress as well as from free market and limited-government organizations like ours, the National Governor’s Association, the National Conference of State Legislators and the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries.

As such, the bill failed to move past the committee hearing stage—this language has not even been ‘marked up.'”

3. Freedom-oriented

The letter focuses on the current political environment much more than other letters on the subject have. That can be at least partially attributed to the fact it is addressed to Culberson instead of a member of the Trump administration.

Culberson is a vocal proponent of the Second Amendment. The letter makes several mentions of how this seemingly unrelated law could have a huge impact on gun sales.

“The consequence of RAWA legislation being buried in a spending bill sets a dangerous precedent for any party to use such bills in the future to circumvent the Constitution’s protections in a variety of areas, including the 2nd Amendment,” the letter reads.

The letter also references the post-election climate, noting “our nation just completed a tumultuous election in which changing the way Washington does business was a central issue.”

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The rumors around Washington were that Congress would attach a RAWA-like measure to must-pass spending legislation. With the political environment focused on “draining the swamp,” moving away from shady tactics like sliding in laws on must-move legislation are high priorities, according to the electorate.

The letter directly calls out this plan to pass RAWA as exactly the kind of action the country voted against when electing Trump.

Things are looking less optimistic for RAWA with more than just pro-gambling groups jumping in to fight against it. The gun lobby is a strong ally in any political fight and one that gets a lot more attention than online gambling proponents.

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Jessica Welman

A graduate of USC and Indiana University, Jessica Welman has long been involved in the poker industry and online gambling. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and as the managing editor for WSOP.com.

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