Potent group of Conservatives come together to oppose Adelson’s RAWA

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has been backing a bill that would incite a blanket ban of online gambling in the US, titled Restoration of Americas Wire Act (RAWA). With billions behind it and not much distinguishable opposition ahead, many feared the lame duck legislative session would be an easy catalyst for Adelson to get his bill through Congress. As the hour draws nigh, however, it seems there’s a lot more resistance in the undercurrent than the anti-online gambling bill’s supporters first realized.

On Thursday, a letter was authored to the four most influential members of Congress; The U.S. Senates’  Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps more impressive than the heading, in quantity and quality, were the signatures upon the communique, which included Presidents, Executive Directors and Honorary Chairman’s for 12 powerful conservative organizations.

We write to inform you of our strong concerns about S.2159, Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and its companion House legislation H.R. 4301, both known as RAWA,” the letter begins.

While RAWA supporters contend that this legislation is a simple fix to 53 year old Wire Act legislation on sports betting, RAWA attempts to apply federal sports betting regulations to online gambling – even though this legislation was created decades before the invention of the internet.

The conservatives went on to clarify that “states have always led the way in regulating gambling and that is why a diverse coalition of organizations including the Democratic Governors Association, National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures and numerous civil libertarian, free market and conservative groups have already spoken out against this legislation.

Regardless of your personal opinions on gambling, we encourage you to preserve the authority of the states to prohibit or regulate gambling as the 10th Amendment directs.

The letter called RAWA “an assault on our Federalist system,” arguing that New Jersey and Pennsylvania legislators are “considering resolutions to Congress to ask you to vote against such legislation.

After citing original debates leading to the US Department of Justice’s evaluation of the Wire Act in 2011 that resulted in intrastate online gambling becoming a viable regulatory avenue for individual states, authors closed the document with the following appeal.

The real intention of this bill is to remove the state’s 10th Amendment authority to regulate online gambling as states see fit within their own borders. We hope you will not allow RAWA to become yet another instance where the federal government expands its encroachment into the states’ purview. State governments are more than capable of making this decision.

Signatures on the oppositional letter included:

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform
Larry Hart
Director of Government Relations
American Conservative Union
Steve Pociask
American Consumer Institute
John Tate
Campaign for Liberty
Lawson Bader
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Andrew Langer
Institute for Liberty
Gov. Gary Johnson
Honorary Chairman
Our America Initiative
David Williams
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director
Digital Liberty
Jeff Mazzella
Center for Individual Freedom
Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation
Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity


It’s becoming clear now that RAWA, and its billionaire backer, Sheldon Adelson, face a lot more hostility than once believed in terms of filtering RAWA through a fiscally-empathetic lame duck session. Now, with the public eye narrowly trained on the issue, it’s doubtful the anti-online gambling bill will see the light of day before the 2015 legislative session reconvenes, and harvesting support won’t be so easy then either.