Dan Schneider, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, has come out strongly on the proposed Restoration of America's Wire Act proposal that seeks a federal ban on internet gambling, urging Congressional lawmakers to respect the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects states' rights.
Online gambling is a state – not federal – responsibility says ACU chief.
In an op-ed written for the Washington DC publication The Hill this week, Schneider reminds politicians that the purpose of the 224-year-old Tenth Amendment is to ensure that the rights of the people are protected from the federal government in Washington, D.C., noting that: “Unless a power is specifically delegated to the federal government under the Constitution, it is reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
He opines that because the founding fathers of the United States did not want a national government hundreds of miles from their homes dictating how they lived their daily lives, authority must reside with the people and is shared only with their state legislatures. “That is why every conservative congressman must stand firmly with the 10th Amendment and resist the temptation to impose their own policy preferences when they fall outside the powers delegated to the federal government.”
Schneider applauds the conservative track record of Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican congressman from Utah who is driving the House version of RAWA, but he is resolute in opposing RAWA, claiming that conservative principles are not something that members of Congress can pick and choose to adopt when it’s convenient.
“We hope that all members make this point clear in the upcoming hearing [on RAWA] in the Oversight Committee that Chaffetz has called to consider the issue of Internet gambling later this week,” he writes.
Acknowledging that surveys have shown that about one-half of 1 percent of Americans are addicted to gambling, Schneider argues that the ACU does not see how federal intervention could be superior to a state response to this problem, or why the “heavy hand” of the federal government should be allowed to trump the 10th Amendment when the percentage of impacted Americans is so minuscule.
“States have already proven that they have the ability to prohibit gambling or approve and regulate it,” he writes. “No bill in Congress would or could ban online gambling, in part because it is impossible to prevent foreign operators in places like the Caribbean, China, and Russia from bringing their gambling business into U.S. markets.
“Moreover, Chaffetz’s bill would allow some domestic Internet gambling and prevent others, essentially picking the winners and losers. FanDuel and DraftKings are just two examples. And, for years, Americans have been legally allowed to bet on horse racing over the Internet.”
He adds that the ACU would need to see significant, broad-based harm before even entertaining the idea of federal usurpation of states’ rights, pointing out: “We do not see that kind of harm here, nor do we see any tangible benefit from adopting such a scheme.” Schneider also suggests that the Tenth Amendment prevents one state from forcing its will on another.
“It would be a sad day, indeed, if Nevada were permitted to dictate to the people of Utah what kinds of gambling would be permitted in Salt Lake City,” he postulates. Schneider takes an oblique swipe at Sheldon Adelson – the land casino magnate widely believed to be the man behind RAWA – observing:
“It’s not Congress’s job to pick winners and losers. Using the federal government to target certain competitors may be very good for the profits of some favored businesses, but it is by no means an appropriate way to set policy. Although we understand the substantial downside to irresponsible gambling, it is not a proper use of the federal government to preserve the profits and success of a single company’s business plan.”