The failed presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham, has managed to slip anti-online gambling language into the Appropriations Bill. Let’s examine the chances for a federal ban on internet gambling in the US.
Lindsay Graham is sticking to his plan to ban internet gambling in the US. According to US gambling news, the failed presidential candidate has inserted an anti-internet gambling provision into the spending bill. The wording of the provision is similar to that of Graham’s failed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill. The RAWA would have banned most forms of internet gambling in the US by extending the original Wire Act of 1961.
The background of the fight against internet gambling in the US
The RAWA was supported by Sen. Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio on behalf of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, America’s largest casino company. He uses his USD 25,8 billion net worth to influence the Republican Party. Adelson supported both Graham’s and Rubio’s campaigns in the current presidential race.
Since Las Vegas casino revenues started declining in 2015, Adelson’s net worth has also stagnated. Therefore, it’s not surprising that critics say that the casino mogul sees internet gambling as competition, which should be taken down immediately. His protégées are helping him to achieve his aim, even though the chances for a federal ban on internet gambling in the US are rather low.
In 2011, New York and Illinois proposed to use the internet to sell lottery tickets within their state borders. The formal legal opinion of the US Department of Justice concluded that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.” Following the release of the opinion three states – Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey – have legalized some forms of online gambling and many were considering to do the same.
RAWA language in the Appropriations Bill
The language inserted “at the request of Senator Graham” into the Appropriations Bill declares that “the Wire Act did not change in 2011.” The RAWA’s purpose was similar:
The [Wire Act’s] prohibition against transmission of wagering information shall apply to any bet or wager, or information assisting in the placing of any bet or wager (thus making such prohibition applicable to all types of gambling activities, including internet gambling).
The arguments against such measures are really strong. The Constitution says that state governments are to decide whether they legalize online gambling. Therefore, banning internet gambling on a federal level would violate the rights of the states. Furthermore, as New Jersey. Rep. Mick Mulvaney highlighted, such provision would also endanger Second Amendment rights, specifically the right to sell firearms and ammunition over the internet.
The Appropriations Bill will first be heard by the Appropriations Committee, whose chairman is Rep. John Culberson, a well-known supporter of Second Amendment Rights and federalism. Culberson is authorized to remove the RAWA language from the bill, preventing the internet gambling ban from being enacted.