RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, is a bill that would effectively prohibit the transmission of Internet wagering.
Its chances of passing the House and Senate and becoming law are slim at best, but parties on both sides of online gambling aren’t taking any risks, raising the ante through lobbyists, political action committees, and billionaires to sway congressional leaders.
On one side there’s Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands owner who is worth around $30 billion.
Adelson is the leading opponent to online gambling, and he’s using his political clout through political donations to force certain lawmakers into opposing Internet gaming.
On the other side there’s the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and Amaya Inc., the company responsible for the world’s two largest online poker networks, who believe iPoker would only strengthen the gambling industry as a whole.
It was revealed this week that both Amaya Inc. and the PPA hired a leading lobbyist firm in Washington, DC, to help its cause.
In today’s world of politics, elections are unfortunately largely about money, especially true for presidential campaigns.
Potential Republican 2016 suitors for the While House are going to need Adelson’s financial backing, a reliable GOP donor who gave nearly $100 million in 2012 to political action committees, 100 percent of them conservative organizations and none more ironic than the “Ending Spending Action Fund.”
Adelson’s deep pockets have many GOPers backing and supporting the illegalization of online gambling.
That’s not good for the PPA, a group focused on supporting and promoting the game in all of its forms, and Amaya, a company that spent $4.9 billion to buy the PokerStars and Full Tilt networks.
According to The Hill, lobbying firm Valente & Associates has been employed by the PPA and Amaya to combat congressional movement on RAWA and the continued hesitation among legislators when it comes to passing iGaming regulations.
The decision to use Valente was a result of Dan Walsh, a gambling industry lobbyist who has previously represented both entities, joining the firm.
The PPA has already spent $210,000 on its lobbying efforts in the first quarter of 2015, and Amaya has dished out $150,000.
While calculating a precise dollar figure for Adelson is a bit harder, the casino owner said in 2013 he’ll spend “whatever it takes” to ban online gambling.
Much Ado About Nothing
As pro and anti online gambling groups continue to throw money at one another, the imperativeness of Internet gambling doesn’t seem to resonate with everyone in Washington, including newly minted Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Asked by 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) during her confirmation hearing whether she’d be willing to reverse a Department of Justice judgment that permitted wire betting, she said she would review the ruling but that those opinions are “rarely reconsidered.”
2014 lobbying by the numbers:
$3.25 billion: projected total spent lobbying
$34.5 million: total spent lobbying on casinos/gambling
375: number of lobbyists who fought for a casino/gambling issue
168: number of clients in the industry who spent money lobbying