short two-page bill was put forth on Dec. 7 from Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and it sits with the House Judiciary Committee.
The legislation states that a late 2011 opinion from the Obama Department of Justice that paved the way for states to regulate their own online casino industries “does not carry the force of law” and “shall have no force and effect for purposes of interpreting or applying” the law.
The DoJ re-interpreted the decades-old Wire Act to say that it applied to sports betting, not other casino games like poker. Billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson has made it his mission to get the Wire Act “restored” because he thinks games on the web hurt the brick-and-mortar industry.
The commercial gambling market in America is worth $40 billion a year, and Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands is the largest casino developer in the world, based on revenue.
A co-sponsor of Fitzpatrick’s bill is fellow Pennsylvania Congressman Charles Dent, who himself made an attempt to get RAWA-like language inserted into a larger piece of legislation. Fortunately, his anti-poker amendment failed to gain enough support.
The route that Dent went is widely seen as the most concerning for poker advocates. A stand-alone RAWA bill, attempted by several
Congressmen over the past few years, has consistently failed, but finding a larger bill as a vehicle for the prohibition remains a credible threat.
According to a Tweet from the Poker Players Alliance on Friday, RAWA was “successfully muted” in 2016, but the group expects those efforts to return next year.
In addition to Fitzpatrick and Dent, Congressmen Mike Lee (R-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have all supported RAWA plans.