December 9 House Oversight Committee Hearing on “Restore America’s Wire Act” Is Looming
A hearing has been set for December 9 to discuss Restore America’s Wire Act in the United States House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee, which is chaired by Jason Chaffets. The hearing is a sign that the Republican majority under new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is likely to be friendlier to anti-online gambling legislation than John Boehner was.
This site speculated last month that Paul Ryan’s leadership might be a time fraught with peril for the legal online gambling industry in the United States. Ryan’s decision to make Dave Hoppe his chief of staff was cited as a key piece of evidence.
Dave Hoppe and Sheldon Adelson
Dave Hoppe comes from K Street, a synonym for the Washington D.C. lobbyist culture (most of the Top 20 lobbying firms were once located on K Street in Washington DC). In particular, Dave Hoppe comes from the segment of the K Street establishment which is a bastion of conservatism, complete with its own set of think tanks and advocacy groups.
He has served as the Vice President of the Heritage Foundation, while working as an aide for a string of Republican politicians. One of the groups Dave Hoppe served with over the last few years is the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling or CSIG.
The CSIG is Sheldon Adelson’s advocacy group which lobbies for a 50-state ban on online gambling and smears politicians (such as John Payne of Pennsylvania) who try to push for regulated Internet gambling. They have pushed Restore America’s Wire Act since Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Lindsey Graham first introduced the bill to Congress in the spring of 2014.
Since then, RAWA has floundered in Congress. In 2014, the bill had trouble even getting a discussion in a sub-committee. Then Jason Chaffetz gained in status in the incoming Congress in 2015, which gave RAWA a public forum this year. The bill was discussed in committee, with the usual list of anti-gambling opponents appearing to use traditional arguments against legalizing iGaming. Still, few people took it seriously.
Republicans against RAWA Bill
Those Republicans who did speak out on the RAWA bill were against it. Rand Paul and Ron Paul each have been critical of RAWA, on strictly conservative grounds. Both men see the bill as a large expansion of the power of the central government in Washington, because it gives the federal government powers usually reserves for individual states.
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax lobbyist and the vice president of the NRA, also spoke out against RAWA–on the same grounds. Few Republicans spoke out on behalf of RAWA. Those who did, like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, were accused of doing so to get campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson.
Marco Rubio Supports RAWA
For that reason, Sen. Marco Rubio signed on to the bill in June 2015. Like Sen. Graham, Marco Rubio was preparing to run for the GOP nomination for the 2016 US Presidential Election. Sheldon Adelson has pledged $100 million in donations to conservatives who champion his causes, so it made sense for Rubio to sign onto the bill.
As readers can see, the elements for a troubled time are coming together. Though Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid never got beyond the South Carolina senator destroying his cellphone after Donald Trump made remarks about it, the same cannot be said about Marco Rubio.
Growing Influence of Jason Chaffetz
In the House of Representatives, Jason Chaffetz has the power to order committee hearings on Restore America’s Wire Act. Sheldon Adelson has a former CSIG lobbyist working as the chief of staff for the House of Representatives. He also has an ambitious young senator who is running for president and going against the huge war chest Donald Trump has. Marco Rubio is rising in the polls, yet he is taking criticism for his lack of accomplishments while in the Senate.
In an election year, strange things happen. The UIGEA was passed in 2006 as the mid-terms were coming up. At the time, Republicans were trying to fight historical trends of losing legislative seats in a sitting president’s 6th year, so they parades their patriotism by supporting the Safe Port Act. When the UIGEA was attached to the bill at the last minute, online poker and casino gaming were virtually illegal in the United States.
Online Gaming Ban Attached to a Bill?
Such things could happen again in 2016, in some new form. While the votes clearly do not exist to pass Restore America’s Wire Act, enough supporters exist in positions of power that RAWA could be attached to some other bill. While it’s still unlikely to happen, one never knows.
Those who care about legal online gambling in the United States should pay close attention to the December 9 hearing before the House Oversight Committee on Restore America’s Wire Act.
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