Over the last two years, Sheldon Adelson has convinced certain lawmakers to try and push through the Restoration of America’s Wire Act – RAWA. The bill would have effectively banned online gambling in the United States.
Fortunately, lawmakers didn’t want to get into a prolonged battle with states over states’ rights and the bill has failed and realistically shouldn’t be resubmitted. However, there were rumblings last year of a measure that would achieve some of the same goals but on a short-term scale.
Dubbed “RAWA-Lite,” the measure would put a two-year moratorium on online gambling expansion while Congress commissions a study on iGaming. It would not make iGaming illegal in states already regulated but would prevent states from moving forward with new regulation efforts.
Now that RAWA is dead, one has to wonder if lawmakers will take a stab at RAWA-Lite. Today we take a look at whether the measure has a realistic chanced of passing.
They Aren’t Infringing on State Rights – They Can Still Regulate After the Study
Time to angle shoot a bit. One of the big issues surrounding RAWA is that it infringes on a state’s choice of whether to regulate online gambling. RAWA-Lite in theory only pauses online gambling expansion at the state level. It doesn’t completely take away their ability to do so. It merely puts it on pause for two years.
Would you go to work for someone that told you that you wouldn’t get paid for two years? Of course not. However, there may be some political geniuses out there that may believe that this is an acceptable deal. Shoot those angles Mr. Chaffetz.
DFS Crisis Could Help Bill Earn Support
One possibility we shouldn’t overlook is Chaffetz and company trying to angle RAWA-Lite as a way to investigate Daily Fantasy Sports at the federal level. We could see them offering the study as a “joint-effort” with states looking to hammer down the legalities of DFS.
Putting a two-year pause on gambling expansion and grouping DFS under that umbrella may bring some states around. After all, the government will be “helping them” determine the legality of DFS.
Sound absurd? Three words – Trump for President.
Beware the Lame Duck
Of course, we have the lovely Lame Duck session of Congress coming later in the year. This could be the time that Chaffetz tries to find a piece of must-pass legislation to attach RAWA-Lite to. Since it is a “study” rather than a complete ban on gambling, it may fly relatively under the radar of some politicians.
Some states that are a few years off from seriously considering online gambling expansion probably won’t care since it is a “study” rather than an outright ban. Why protest a bill that isn’t going to impact you in any meaningful way? Yes, that is the logic that may allow RAWA-Lite to pass this fall.
If at First You Don’t Succeed – Keep Spending Adelson’s Money
Adelson and cronies have tried to get RAWA through Congress twice and have failed. RAWA-Lite could be their latest attempt to get some type of veiled gambling ban enacted.
We can assume that the proposed “study” will be heavily skewed in the favor of Adelson’s camp with a recommendation of banning or severely curtailing online gambling expansion in the United States. Should RAWA-Lite get passed, it will merely be a stopgap measure that will give Adelson and company time to work on their next plan for a more permanent measure.
Do we really believe that RAWA-Lite has a chance to pass in Congress? Unfortunately, we do believe that there is a “chance” just based on the shenanigans we have seen from lawmakers in the past. We can hope that logical minds will prevails but the likely reality will be that online gambling will not be safe this year until the conclusion of the Lame Duck.