ALERT THAT U.S. ONLINE GAMBLING BAN ATTEMPT MAY BE IMMINENT (Update)
Influential Washington newspaper joins voices warning that another Adelson-inspired attempt may be made in the lame duck session of Congress.
The usually well informed Washington freelance journalist Beth Johnson has joined other warning voices in sounding the alert that another attempt to federally ban US online gambling in the United States is shaping up in Congress and may be attempted during the last-gasp lame duck session just before that institution adjourns for the year.
Johnson says an attachment to an unrelated appropriations bill is the most likely strategy, and the vehicle will be a recently introduced bill by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas which mirrors the Sheldon Adelson-inspired Restoration of America's Gaming Act and is co-sponsored by Adelson allies Sens. Mike Lee and Lindsey Graham .
In an op-ed article in the Washington newspaper Politico, Johnson speculates that in passing the bill Republicans may be showing their appreciation to land casino owner Adelson, a mega-Republican supporter and donor who is vehemently opposed to online gambling and has already spent millions of dollars in trying to get the genre banned.
But, Johnson reminds her readers, a federal ban such as RAWA has repeatedly failed because it tramples all over the Tenth Amendment rights of individual US states to make their own legislative decisions when it comes to many issues arising within their borders….including gambling.
As such, previous banning attempts have been strenuously opposed by internet freedom and civil rights groups despite conservative leanings, and politicians have learned to tread carefully when it comes to such a sensitive issue, regardless of political party.
Johnson also calls attention to recent reports that Adelson has again made political donations to mainly Republican entities this year, and that in late September the land casino mogul cut a $2 million check to a political action committee associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"A few days later, McConnell ally Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) reintroduced the Adelson bill. As it became apparent that the GOP could indeed hold the Senate, Adelson cut another check of $10 million to a political action committee attacking Hillary Clinton," she notes, adding that rumors "…have been swirling on Capitol Hill that the GOP leadership is looking to thank the casino owner by including his RAWA legalization into a major spending bill that will close out the current Congress."
Johnson closes her article with the observation that RAWA-style bills violate almost every core principle, bullying the states, opening the door to wider internet interference by government, and creating dangerous precedents for other constitutional incursions by federal government.
She also debunks banning proponent claims that online gambling bans are necessary to counter terrorism and money laundering
"Violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights to reward a billionaire casino magnate would be a textbook example of cronyism and corruption," the article concludes. "Members of Congress who got the message on Election Day must stand up and object to the inclusion of this crony giveaway, and they must do so right now."