US Gambling Legislation: Date Set for Congress Hearing on RAWAPublished February 24, 2015 by Elana K
The House Subcommittee will hold a hearing on March 5 to discuss RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, which would prohibit online poker.
An anonymous source in Washington has leaked that the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) will get a hearing in the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 5. Sheldon Adelson and other anti-online gambling lobbyists have been pushing for RAWA to be passed by Congress since 2014; the bill would make it illegal to operate online poker rooms, even for those states that already legalized it.
Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reported this update last Thursday, and said that the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations will hear the bill. This will be the first time that RAWA is officially discussed in either house of Congress.
Pushing for RAWA
Adelson pushed for the introduction of RAWA in 2014 during Congress’ lame duck session, but the bill was unable to receive a hearing. Earlier this year, representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) reintroduced RAWA to the House of Representatives, and it is speculated that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) will do the same in the Senate shortly.
Will RAWA Pass?
With the majority of both houses made up of Republicans, RAWA certainly has a better chance of being passed this year than it did last year. Still, it is hard to imagine that it will actually happen. Even among the Republican camp, opinions are mixed vis a vis online gambling. And risking a fracture within the party does not seem worthwhile, at least not for an issue like online gambling. Moreover, there is a question about the constitutionality of RAWA; it seems to undermine the rights of individual states, which have traditionally dealt with the issue of land-based and online gambling.
So while the March 5 hearing is certainly significant, most proponents of online gambling are not too worried. Many think that the hearing is being held simply to appease Adelson, who is a powerful figure in the Republican party, backed by powerful money.