Rumours have started circulating that a committee hearing of Jason Chaffetz´s “Restoration of Americas Wire Act” (RAWA) has been scheduled for 5th March.
According to a Tweet sent out last night by liberal campaigner Michelle Minton, an anonymous source “on the Hill” claims that the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations will discuss the Bill proposing the “Restoration of Americas Wire Act” on 5th March.
The Bill proposes to amend the Federal Wire Act of 1961 to prohibit most forms of online gambling throughout the US, and would ban online poker in the states which have already introduced legislation for a regulated market – New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.
The Sheldon Adelson Connection
Casino mogul and billionaire Sheldon Adelson has long campaigned for a blanket ban on Internet gambling in the US, and his financial clout was the reason for many of Republican Representatives and Senators gaining their seats in last year´s election – the Republican Party now having a majority in both legislative houses.
As well as his public campaign through the “Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling”, Adelson has been working behind the scenes to influence legislation at both State and Federal level. Adelson is suspected to be behind the delay for PokerStars entry into New Jersey and it is well-known that one of his lobbyists wrote the original draft of RAWA.
What Happens Next?
Assuming that the hearing goes ahead, the Republican majority subcommittee (which includes Jason Chaffetz) will consider the merits of the Bill and – if they find it a worthwhile piece of legislation – will forward it onto the House Judiciary Committee. The House Judiciary Committee will decide whether the Restoration of Americas Wire Act should then go onto the chamber for a full debate.
Although the passage of the Bill through the subcommittee stage does not necessarily mean that RAWA will become law, there are plenty of Representatives and Senators on the Hill that owe their seats to Adelson´s financial backing. It has also been well chronicled that Sheldon Adelson recently held a meeting behind closed doors with senior members of the House Judiciary Committee – implying that Adelson believes the Bill will pass the subcommittee stage.
Industry Experts Divided over Outcome
As soon as the rumours started circulating about the RAWA hearing, industry experts started voicing their opinions on the chances of RAWA being successful. Online Poker Report´s Chris Grove and Steve Ruddock were both of the opinion that a hearing had been scheduled to appease Sheldon Adelson, whereas Card Player´s Nolan Dalla wrote an extensive piece on “Why Online Poker Could Be Outlawed”.
The truth is that nobody knows for sure exactly how much influence Sheldon Adelson has over the politicians that run the US, although (according to Nolan Dalla) the pro-RAWA brigade is better organised and better funded than those opposed to an online poker ban. No doubt the Poker Players Alliance might object to some of Mr Dalla´s opinions, but it does seem likely that the Bill proposing the Restoration of Americas Wire Act will progress at least beyond the subcommittee stage should it be heard at the beginning on next month.