We just had an election where voters sent a clear message about draining the swamp in the nation’s capitol, but yet politics-as-usual goes on in Washington D.C. Sen. Tom Cotton, doing the bidding for his good friend Sheldon Adelson, has introduced a bill, S.3376, on Sept. 21 that is almost identical to the Adelson-backed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the federal internet gambling ban that failed in Congress last year. Adelson, owner of casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, has donated more than $75 million to Republican candidates and Super PACs. Clearly the passage of the internet gambling ban is the return he wants in that investment in politicians.
Last year, several members of Congress including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as well as Rep. Jason Chaffetz pushed for passage of RAWA. All of them have received campaign contributions from Adeslon. RAWA, which clearly would violate the Tenth Amendment by imposing a federal ban on state-based internet gambling, failed to advance in the House Judiciary Committee, where its Chairman is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who is a strong advocate of the Tenth Amendment.
Instead, Chaffetz’s committee held a hearing titled “A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications” with the hope of building support in Congress for RAWA. Experts testified in the hearing about the technology and rules that make internet-based gambling very workable in New Jersey and other states, and by the end of the hearing, many Democrats and Republicans in Congress strongly opposed RAWA. The hearing had all but refuted every argument made in favor of passing RAWA, and it clearly was an embarrassing failure politically for Rep. Chaffetz.
The strong arguments on how a federal ban on state-regulated internet gambling were presented by Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Thomas Massive (R-KY), both illustrated how the bill clearly is in violation of the Tenth Amendment. Additionally, Rep. Massive illustrated how the same federal authority that could be abused to ban internet gambling could also threaten Second Amendment rights by prohibiting the sales of firearms and ammunition by online vendors.
Strongly refuting the claim of RAWA supports that state-based regulated gambling would be inevitably be imposed on states that did not choose to legalize online gambling, Information Technology experts involved with implementing online gambling in New Jersey and Nevada testified about the use of technology that allows online casino operators to block citizens from states that prohibit online gambling from participating on their online casinos.
Despite the failure to advance RAWA in Congress, Adelson isn’t giving up on his desire to federal ban internet-based gambling. After donating a total of about $100 million to Republican candidates during this election cycle, he clearly expects this legislative favor in return for his financial support. Just one day after the announcement of a $20 million contribution to the Senate Leadership Fund Super PAC that supports Republicans running for U.S. Senate seats, Sen. Cotton did Adelson’s bidding by submitting S.3376. As an owner of brick-and-mortar casinos, he simply wants to government authority to shut down potential competition in the industry; Adelson isn’t morally opposed to gambling himself.
Legislative trickery to enact this internet gambling ban never stops. The RAWA-like bill as Sen. Cotton filed it, is likely to be included in a year-end spending bill to be passed in the lame duck session of Congress very soon. This is precisely the kind of government corruption so strongly opposed by the American people who voted to make Donald Trump the next president. Congress needs to defeat RAWA-like legislation and be sure nothing like it ever passes.