Dent Determined to Do Online Gambling Damage

Dent Determined to Do Online Gambling Damage
Dent trying to win Adelson's approval

The news regarding the latest attempt to ban online gambling in the United States has kept online poker players and fans on a roller coaster for the past week. US Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, has been at the center of the effort that came to light in late June, and he is refusing to give up easily.

Dent’s intentions were revealed by Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute on June 20, and those intentions became even more real in early July when Minton reported that Dent was prepared to offer an appropriations amendment to ban state-based internet gambling the following week. The basis for the amendment would be Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a bill touted by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his donation benefactors in Congress as a way to reverse the 2011 Department of Justice decision regarding the Wire Act and ban online gambling on the federal level.

He may have failed to find success with that angle, but Dent is not backing down. Minton says he will try another avenue this week to bring the vote directly to the floor.

On Constant Alert

Lobbying organizations like the Poker Players Alliance have been watching the efforts of Dent and friends closely for years but especially in the past few weeks. When a member of Congress decides to move on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) – or something similar in purpose – online gambling and states’ rights advocates come out in droves to increase awareness and call out the hypocrisy and nonsense of the proposal.

Reports stated that Dent was ready to attach RAWA-style language to a congressional appropriations bill last week, but the PPA was on the case on July 13 when it was supposed to happen. The PPA’s Twitter account first reported that the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2018 was in recess due to other floor votes. Later in the day, the PPA reported: “Rep. Dent will not be offering his RAWA-style amendment to the CJS approps bill at this time.”

But just as poker players and online gambling supporters breathed a sigh of relief, Minton tweeted the following day that Dent had a backup plan. And with that, the RAWA attempts continue.

Not Dent’s First Adelson Rodeo

Dent has been doing Adelson’s bidding to ban online gambling for quite some time. He and fellow US Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, tried the same move in May 2016 by trying to add RAWA language via the House Appropriations Committee in a budget bill. Opposition was fierce, though, and the two Congressmen had to withdraw their measure before a vote was even possible.

When most poker enthusiasts hear about Pennsylvania in relation to online gambling, it pertains to the numerous attempts to legalize and regulate online gambling in that state. As of the summer of 2017, the House and Senate both authorized a gambling expansion bill that includes internet poker and casino games, though an add-on of video gaming terminals continues to threaten to derail the bill. All signs point to the passage of the bill this year, however.

That makes it all the more interesting that Dent is trying to ban online gambling, which would take it out of lawmakers’ hands in his own state to decide the issue. Pennsylvanians and their legislators have indicated grand support for the games, so why would Dent be working to undermine them?

Dent represents the state’s 15th District, one that includes the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem casino, owned by none other than Adelson. With Sands as the only Pennsylvania casino actively opposing the online gambling measure because of Adelson’s personal stance, Dent is representing Adelson in Congress despite contradictory facts, analyses, and public interest.

No contenders have come very close to unseating Dent in the past several elections, but the Republican will be up for reelection again in 2018. The political environment and analysts within suggest that many Republicans will be in danger of losing their Congressional seats due to the lack of popularity of the Trump administration and many Republicans who toe the party line. This means that Dent may have to fight harder for his seat than in past elections. Though there is no evidence that Adelson will be funding any of Dent’s upcoming campaign, it never hurts to do a billionaire’s bidding in Congress in the hopes of finding some additional donations in the coming months.

It should also be noted that Adelson has been disappointed by many of the candidates he’s backed at all levels of government. RAWA has yet to find much support or an avenue for passage, and Adelson’s attempts to push for a reversal of the 2011 DOJ decision have failed thus far due to the need for US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from such issues due to Sessions’ close ties to Adelson. The casino mogul is desperate for success, and if Dent can give it to him, both men would likely benefit from the outcome.

All eyes will be on Dent’s movements this week to see if anything comes of the rumors. Anything he does with RAWA will likely be somewhat secretive, but there are sources in those back rooms who will make sure the right people know what’s happening.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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