RAWA Lite, a more innocent version of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, is allegedly being designed by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his faction of influenced politicians in Washington, DC.
Adelson is spending “whatever it takes” to block all forms of online poker and gambling, but after RAWA largely failed in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate during 2015, the Las Vegas Sands chairman is going back to the drawing board.
According to various reports, RAWA Lite tones down the initial bill’s language from blocking all forms of Internet betting on the federal level to simply impeding additional states from legalizing the practice.
Adelson and his colleagues are thought to be drafting a plan to essentially freeze any form of online gaming legislation while the federal government closely studies the impact of decriminalizing the industry.
Of course, iGambling has already been intensely scrutinized and examined for both its merits and drawbacks, but apparently Adelson doesn’t believe the independent studies performed are reliable.
Studies have been executed on behalf of lobbyist groups both for and against Internet gambling, and as expected, the results have been mixed.
The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a group bankrolled by Adelson, says online gaming operators target the young, poor, and elderly, and that such platforms can be used for fraud and money laundering.
On the other side of the issue is the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading iPoker advocate who found in its research that controlled iGaming is safer for consumers than playing at unregulated offshore networks.
Andy Abboud, senior vice president of government relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corp., said last week his boss has made supporting RAWA legislation almost a mandate for lawmakers seeking the billionaire’s financial backing.
“It won’t stop. It’s never going to stop until RAWA is passed,” Abboud told Gambling Compliance.
New Look, Same Bad Taste
Supporters of Internet poker are championing RAWA Lite as evidence that the iPoker community can defeat even a gambling tycoon, but the forthcoming attenuated measure isn’t necessarily reason for celebration.
RAWA Lite would still fundamentally restrict states from allowing their residents to gamble on the computer, and while the proposition wouldn’t outlaw the practice in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, it would freeze further jurisdictions from joining.
The majority of economic studies on iGambling attest that additional states legalizing online betting is required for the long-term feasibility of the market, especially for poker due to its person-to-person gameplay.
Placing a freeze on any such legislation while the federal government scrutinizes the industry will theoretically be one long thaw as Congress has lately been rather notorious for dragging its feet on any partisan issue.
Online poker is a rather tricky topic for Republicans and Democrats as it involves the expansion of gambling, potential tax revenues, states’ rights, and of course consumer protection. That all adds up to a complex quandary, with common ground unfound to date.