Restore America’s Wire Act Is Shelved in Congress for the Remainder of 2014

Restore America’s Wire Act, the controversial anti-online gambling bill in the U.S. Congress, will not receive a vote this year. It was announced today on Capitol Hill that the House Republican leadership will not hear arguments for the bill this session. The bill’s passage through the House of Representatives was blocked because of time constraints, it is being reported. The lame duck session of Congress tends to have time limitations, because senators and representatives want to return home to their congressional districts for a full Christmas holiday.

Before today’s announcement, there had been some concern about proponents of online gambling that the lame duck session might produce 11th hour legislation, in which lawmakers could push a bill through with the support of departing politicians, who would be beholden to no one. The chances for such an event were small, according to most gaming analysts. Various websites which rate the probabilities of a bill passing through Congress had RAWA rated as having a 1% to 7% chance of passage.

Chaffetz Could Not Pass RAWA

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz had tried to navigate the Restoration of America’s Wire Act from the Judiciary Committee, of which he’s a member, onto the house floor. If RAWA had gotten out of the committee stage, the bill would have seen a vote in the House of Representatives. This might have spurred the U.S. Senate to a vote, as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is championing RAWA in the upper house of Congress.

The bill is supported by Sheldon Adelson, the gambling billionaire who claims he’ll spend whatever money is necessary to see online gambling banned in all 50 states. Adelson, the president of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is worth some $38 billion from his casino gambling empire. The 80-year old Adelson claims his crusade against Internet gambling is meant to protect families from predatory gaming operators who make profits off of problem gamblers.

Chaffetz Fails to Attach RAWA to Another Bill

Attempts were made by Jason Chaffetz to attach the RAWA legislation to an existing bill that was coming to a vote in December. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act or UIGEA was passed in the congress in 2006 under similar circumstance. The UIGEA did not have the votes to pass, but Republican members of Congress attached UIGEA to the Safe Port Act, which passed easily.

Unfortunately for Chaffetz, time constraints once again blocked his attempts to attack RAWA to an existing, more popular bill. That does not necessarily mean the Restore America’s Wire Act legislation is a dead letter. Chaffetz and Graham will have more time in 2015, and they might have a more amenable congress.

Both Good and Bad News

The announcement that RAWA was blocked for the remainder of 2014 can be seen as both good news and bad news for proponents of online gambling. While it means there is no immediate danger to legalized online gambling in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, it does mean that the bill could come to the floor of congress in a session when more conservatives are voting.

Social conservatives tend to dislike gambling for moral reasons. They are also the ones most likely to give sympathy to those who speak of online slot machines as “the crack cocaine of gambling”. Due to the Republicans’ win in the 2014 midterm elections, the GOP controls both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.

How Congression Lawmaking Works

That means Republicans control the committee which decide whether a bill come to the House and Senate floors. That means they control a majority in Congress, while also having the ability to call for votes on a bill. In short, Republicans have the legislative initiative at the moment. If it was a straight party vote, the conservatives could put the RAWA act on President Obama’s desk for signage. Whether the president decided to sign or veto would probably depend on what else the bill entailed, because gambling is a minor issue compared to many of the issue the United States faces.

Beltway insiders say Restore America’s Wire Act still has little chance of passing through congress, and less chance of being signed by Obama. For one thing, many Republicans take a libertarian view towards moral laws. Economic conservatives want the central government out of the everyday lives of Americans, so they are unlikely to support a law that would take decisions away from American citizens and put them in the hands of a government agency. That means a majority for the RAWA almost certainly doesn’t exist from within the GOP alone.

To pass the anti-online gambling bill, Chaffetz and Graham would have to include big government liberals in their bipartisan coalition. In many ways, these are the last people you might see allying with Chaffetz and Graham. Thus, online gambling is an issue which cuts across party lines.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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