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Uncertain Fate for RAWA Online Gambling Bill

2015-04-01 00:00:00

A House Subcommittee recently heard testimony on H.R. 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The bill would change the current Wire Act and make it so that any bet placed over the Internet would be illegal with a few exceptions. The fate of RAWA looks very murky going forward.

The hearing on RAWA had people from both sides of the online gambling issue testifying but very little new information was presented. The big issues that came to light during the hearing were the individual states’ right to control gambling policy within their borders and online protection mechanisms related to children and money laundering. Another issue was whether or not lotteries should be exempt as some people believe that lotteries should exempt from the bill while sports betting and poker are not.
Many states in the U.S. now have lotteries and three have online gambling.

The chances of RAWA actually passing the House and Senate seem remote even though Sheldon Adelson has been throwing money at people for years trying to get the bill through congress. Adelson is chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp and has spent millions of dollars to fund conservative groups and back Republican candidates. Most people believe that the hearing was simply a way to pacify Adelson. The reason the bill is unlikely to pass is that many states want online gambling and don’t want federal intervention. "States should be allowed to decide this question for themselves, and we should not take any action that would overturn such state laws," said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

If RAWA is to go forward it would have to be voted out of committee to the full House.