Online Gambling: Today's RAWA Hearing in Congress

Published March 5, 2015 by Lee R

Online Gambling: Today's RAWA Hearing in Congress

Today's hearing pits the for and opposed online gambling movement squarely.

UPDATE: Due to inclement weather, the hearing has been postponed. Below is the text of our original article discussing the bill. 

The online industry is holding its collective breath.

RAWA Threatens Online Gambling

The bane of the online gambling movement, the proposed Restoration of America's Wire Act (RAWA), is in the process of being heard by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

Written by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the bill would bring back broad prohibitions against wire transactions which would encompass interstate and state online gambling. With Chaffetz as an understandably strong proponent, a lack of effective speakers against the bill could result in what would be a worst-case scenario, the advance of the Bill to Congress for consideration as law.

The bill specifically seeks to repeal the 2011 Department of Justice interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act allowing for legalized online gambling with the exception of sports betting. This interpretation provided the basis for the launch of online gambling in America, with the following three states first legalizing online gambling by voting to regulate it: Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey, giving rise to what remains a fledgling though landmark online gambling industry within the United States.

Another Change in Interpretation?

Chaffetz's bill could change all that, and the continued survival of online gambling in the US is at stake. While the growth of online gambling in Nevada and New Jersey especially signals that state governments could effectively regulate and benefit from allowing online gambling within their jurisdiction, the RAWA represents the opposing development--a newly drafted notion representing an opposing movement that could result in a potential federal mandate shutting it all down.

Little Opposition

Without sufficient opposition, the Bill will keep moving through the various channels of Congressional approval at the end of which lies legalization. As far as staunch opposing voices necessary to stem the tide, the Poker Players Alliance report that it is currently unclear if any pro-online poker interests will be represented at the House hearing, where more strong support advocating online gambling bans will be present in the person of online gambling ban proponent Sheldon Adelson.

Drawing the Lines

Today's subcomittee test for RAWA will define much more clearly how much traction the online gambling movement has gained in Washington, in addition to how much the banning movement has taken hold as well.

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