A handful of GOP lawmakers have revived an effort to effectively ban internet gambling, re-introducing the so-called Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The bill, written by casino mogul and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson and introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would amend a 1961 law by expanding a ban on interstate sports betting to a de facto ban on all online gambling transactions. Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar Michelle Minton warns that the bill promotes crony interests at the expense of consumer freedom.
“This proposal isn’t about protecting consumers or the democratic process,” said CEI Fellow Michelle Minton. “It is about doing the bidding of a powerful donor and overturning laws democratically enacted by the states. Anyone who cares about consumer choice and abuse of power by the federal government should be wary of this bill.
“This attack on consumer freedom is not about protecting consumers or restoring any law,” said Michelle Minton, title. “It is about doing the bidding of a powerful donor and imposing top-down federal control over state choice. Anyone who cares about consumer choice and abuse of power by the federal government should oppose this bill.
“Online gambling is here to stay,” Minton added “Between 2003 and 2010, Americans already spent $30 billion gambling on foreign websites, without the oversight of American authorities. Driving that commerce to the black market won’t help anyone other than special interests.” Around 85 nations, including Canada and Mexico, have legal online gambling.
“If RAWA supporters argue that technology can’t restrict legal online gambling to individual states that want it,” asked Minton, “how do they propose to stop Americans from accessing illegal gambling sites operating overseas?”
Minton’s research shows that the 1961 Wire Act now at issue was aimed only at combating organized crime and sports betting and was never intended to regulate other sorts of betting or prevent states from legalizing online gambling. See: The Original Intent of the Wire Act and Its Implications for State-based Legalization of Internet Gambling.