Is Sheldon Adelson Close to Buying Online Gambling Ban?

Sheldon Adelson has been spending millions in political donations while pushing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). So far, few politicians have seriously considered the online gambling bill. But could the Las Vegas Sands Chairman’s latest donations help push RAWA into a law?

Daily Caller reports that Adelson has donated $100 million to Republican causes, including $20 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC that helps elect Republicans to the US Senate.

In return for his numerous donations, Adelson would like Congress members to put a federal ban on state-based online gambling.

While Adelson argues that this is to help prevent people from becoming internet gambling addicts, Daily Caller believes that the real motivation is to limit competition to his brick-and-mortar casinos.

Currently, some states allow residents to buy state tickets online and even play at online casinos. This is thanks to the US Department of Justice’s ruling that the Wire Act doesn’t violate federal law, and states are free to choose their own gambling laws.

But Adelson was able to get Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fl), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Rep. Jason Chafetz (R-UT) to fight for RAWA in Congress. If successful, they would force the federal government to reinterpret the Wire Act and ban online gambling in all 50 states, including regulated markets in Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada.

So far, RAWA has mostly attracted opposition who are in favor of states’ rights. This despite strong efforts by Graham, Chaffetz, and Rubio to gain special favor for the anti-online gambling bill.

Chaffetz was unable to get a congressional hearing, so he scheduled a hearing with the House Oversight Committee, in which he serves as the chairman. The meeting resulted in nothing as the majority of House Oversight Committee members didn’t feel strongly enough about Chaffetz’s position.

As for what this position is, Chaffetz and other RAWA proponents argue that the internet has no geographical boundaries, making it impossible to keep residents of other states from gambling online in legal states.

But experts involved with geolocation technology have successfully testified that they can restrict users from non-internet gambling states from accessing the technology.

Furthermore, Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) have adamantly fought RAWA because they think it’s a clear violation of the Tenth Amendment (states’ rights). Massie has gone further by pointing out how if they government can ban online gambling, then they can easily ban the online sale of firearms and ammunition.

Despite the lack of support for RAWA, there’s a clear path for this legislation to become reality thanks to Adelson’s donations.

After donating $20 million to the Senate Leadership Fund, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AS), a product of the fund, introduced Bill S.3376, an online gambling ban that’s very similar to RAWA.

The bill will be attached to a year-end spending bill that Congress looks at during its lame-duck session.

This is similar to how the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was voted into law. But given RAWA’s violation of states’ rights, it’s unclear whether S.3376 has any chance of remaining attached to the spending legislation.