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Rolling the Dice: Online Gambling May Take Center Stage Before the Holidays
12/04/2016 Gambling Steven K
keywords: Politics

Rolling the Dice: Online Gambling May Take Center Stage Before the Holidays

Politicians and political operatives are circling around the possibility of voting on legislation that would ban online gambling just in time for the holidays.

The legislation in question is the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) which was introduced into the Senate by Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffez (R-Ut.).

The bill would amend that the Wire Act to include “a prohibition against using a wire communication facility for the transmission of bets or wagers, wagering information, or wagering proceeds” for wages transmitted over the internet.

Those supporting the bill argue that it prevents money laundering by terrorist operations, and the bill specifies that it includes “transmission over the Internet carried interstate or in foreign commerce.”

In 2014, former New York Governor George Pataki and co-chair of the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling, cited the FBI and terrorism to CNBC when asked why he opposed online gambling. This came after New Jersey became the third state to legalize online gambling.

However, critics of the bill, like Beth Johnson, writer for The Hill’s article titled “Will Congress ban Internet gaming before Christmas?” argue that the legislation is part of lobbying campaign by Las Vegas gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson and violates the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Adelson is the multi-billionaire CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, owns a number of the casinos and hotels along the strip, and has waged a grassroots campaign against the online gambling community in recent years.

The gambling mogul was the one who had lobbyists draw up the bill to give to Senator Graham in the first place, according to Johnson.

Johnson also argued that the FBI has gone out of its way to promote online gambling as a way to reduce crime and has not shown any links to terrorism.

In September 2013, J. Britt Johnson, the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI, wrote a letter to Congress expressing concern about the online gambling as a way to launder money. The letter is often cited as evidence that the FBI opposes online gambling as a legal enterprise, but instead, Michelle Milton from the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues that it makes the case for stricter restrictions on Internet gambling.

The chance that the bill will come to a vote during a lame duck session of Congress or the Senate is slim, but would show the power and influence of lobbyists and big-moneyed interests in Washington.  

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