Adelson’s RAWA gains Another Enemy: Nevada Sportsbooks

Against all odds, Sheldon Adelson continues to push for a federal ban on online gaming. But it’s been revealed that his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) has created yet another opponent: Nevada sportsbooks.

If RAWA were to pass in Congress, it would inadvertently end mobile sports betting, which has become highly important to Nevada casino sportsbooks lately. In fact, mobile wagering is being hailed as the reason why the state’s sportsbooks are now a $3.9 billion-a-year industry.

Adelson, who wants 2011 changes to the 1961 Federal Wire Act reversed, seeks to end nearly all forms of iGaming in the United States. And while a few carveouts are expected for certain games (possibly online lotteries), mobile sports betting is not expected to be one of these. Aside from banning most online gambling in the U.S., RAWA would also end regulated iGaming markets in Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.

Sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), RAWA gained a hearing in front of the House Judiciary crime subcommittee in March. And the proposed legislation will soon get a Judiciary Committee session, where it will be available for amendments and votes.

Interestingly enough, the fact that RAWA would end Nevada mobile sports wagering was not realized until Las Vegas gaming attorney Greg Gemignani dug deeper into the matter. Gemignani, who specializes in online gaming law, eventually discovered that Nevada sportsbooks would be negatively affected by this bill.

And as the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, the Adelson-backed legislation would also “make illegal off-site internet servers using a virtual private network that many older casinos employ to operate their slot machines’ server-based gaming systems.”

William Hill U.S. CEO Joe Asher, whose company operates race and sportsbooks for Nevada casinos, can’t believe that RAWA would ban mobile wagering in the state. “There are thousands of Nevadans who bet sports on their mobile phone today in a highly regulated and appropriate fashion,” said Asher. “The idea that we would take away our customers’ ability to bet on their mobile phones, one of the key growth areas in the business, doesn’t make sense.”

Given everything that’s at stake regarding RAWA, there are certainly some powerful gaming groups in Nevada that would work to oppose this bill – especially if there are no carveouts included for mobile sports betting and off-site internet servers using a VPN.