With US Congressmen in a lame duck session, it was feared that the House Judiciary Committee would take the opportunity to push a Sheldon Adelson backed anti-online poker bill through congress with ease, much like the UIGEA was surreptitiously signed into effect in 2006. A recent Tweet from the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) says otherwise, claiming that a hearing to review the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) has been stricken from the schedule.
The post in question was Tweeted by PokerPlayersAlliance @ppapoker at 5:34pm on Monday, November 17th. “Inside info, planned Internet #poker hearing in House Judiciary cmte has been pulled. Need to remain vigilant for other lame duck actions JP”.
Word around the water cooler has been that Sheldon Adelson’s exorbitant donations to the GOP would gain him favor in the lame duck session, resulting in a hearing to discuss the passage of RAWA. Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp and die-hard opponent of any form of internet gambling in the US, is the strongest supporter of RAWA, previously promising to spend “whatever it takes” to get online poker and casino games outlawed once more.
The Restoration of America’s Wire is intended to do just that; restoring the previous definitions of the Wire Act of 1961. The UIGEA was actually based on the Wire Act, clarifying that it made all forms of ‘remote gambling’ illegal. The US Department of Justice revised that opinion in December of 2011, stating that only online sports betting was prohibited by the Wire Act. Thus RAWA was authored as a bill that would reverse the DOJ’s 2011 clarification, creating a blanket ban of online poker and casino gaming, as well as online lottery sales, across the nation.
Before online poker players get too excited about this latest news, though, it should be noted that even without RAWA getting attention during the lame duck session, the bill could still garner heavy support in 2015 when the full committee reconvenes. The reality of the matter is that the House Judiciary Committee is teeming with politicians known to oppose online poker regulation in the US.
Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is the Chairman of the House, and played a crucial role in the passage of the UIGEA in 2006. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) isn’t much better, having voiced his abhorrence of online poker countless times over the years, taking multiple opportunities to edify Congress of his beliefs during relative hearings. A quick look at the PPA’s list of political online poker opponents, ‘The Jokers’, reveals a throng of additional threats that include Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Rep. George Holding (R-NC), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
On the positive side, there are still many supporters of online poker, or at least the need to uphold state’s rights, as was iterated by former US Congressman Ron Paul. If a state is allowed to regulate its own land-based gambling industry, it wouldn’t make sense that the right to regulate online gambling be stripped away from them. This fact represents strong support in favor of RAWA being denied credibility on its own. However, the threat of the anti-online poker bill being attached to an un-related, supremely important bill remains; much like the UIGEA was attached to a Port Security Bill that then-President George W. Bush didn’t bat an eyelash before signing.