Once again, the Fraternal Order of Police expressed their staunch opposition to a federal prohibition on Internet gambling. In a letter sent to Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, and Reps. John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, FOP National President Chuck Canterbury writes:
Congress cannot ban its way out of this problem as this would simply drive online gambling further and further underground and put more and more people at risk. Internet gaming forced into the shadows would exacerbate current difficulties and create new dangers. Not only does the black market for internet gaming include no consumer protections, it also operates entirely offshore with unlicensed operators, drastically increasing the threat of identity theft, fraud or other criminal acts.
The letter echoes Canterbury’s March op-ed published by The Hill and comes in the wake of growing opposition to a bill written by and for casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), would create a de facto prohibition on Internet gambling by rewriting a 53-year-old law that was originally intended to target the mob and help states enforce their sports gambling laws. While it seemed that the bill was making some headway (picking up 18 for House Bill 4301 and four for Senate Bill 2159) at the end of November it seemed to completely lose steam. A hearing on the bill, reportedly scheduled for early December in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations was cancelled. Earlier in the week former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) published a scathing opinion piece against RAWA, and a few days later 12 free market and conservative groups, including Grover Norquist’s ATR and CEI, sent a letter to Congress opposing the measure.
Rumors have been going around that Adelson may convince Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to strike a deal and somehow sneak RAWA through in the lame duck session. However, as I detailed in an earlier post, it would be politically challenging—especially for Reid to do a favor for the republican donor who is in large part responsible for the ousting of many democratic Senators during the midterm elections (Adelson gave millions to fund campaigns against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), and Mary Landrieu (D-La.)). In addition, three of Reid’s top five top donors MGM, Caesars, and Boyd Gaming have lobbied against Adelson’s bill.
While unlikely, opponents of a national ban are keeping their eyes peeled for an attempt to attach RAWA to any must pass bill, such as the omnibus spending bill similarly to the strategy used in 2006 to pass UIGEA.