Representative fails to add RAWA language to House Appropriations report

Dent had launched the attempt to replicate the language inserted into the Senate’s Commerce, Justice & Science Appropriations bill report by Senator and former presidential candidate Linsdsey Graham.

However, Dent withdrew the proposed amendment before House colleagues could decide whether to officially include it in the report.

Unlike the Appropriations bill, which sets out government funding for the following year, the report is not binding and is not voted into law, but indicates lawmakers’ preferences.

In this case the language is designed to be used as a proxy for the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) legislation and could be used by lawmakers in an attempt to push through an iGaming ban at a later date.

The Senate report contains the text: “Internet Gambling — Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However, beginning in 2011, certain states began to permit Internet gambling.

“The Committee notes that the Wire Act did not change in 2011. The Committee also notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘criminal laws are for courts, not for the Government, to construe.’”

Poker Players Alliance (PPA) executive director John Pappas told Gaming Intelligence that this as “a very, very weak proxy for RAWA”, but predicted that it would be used to claim support for an iGaming ban.

“I don’t think they will succeed,” he added.

House Republicans had planned to add similar language into the House report, with Pennsylvania Representative Charlie Dent aiming to have it included. Dent represents Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district, in which Las Vegas Sands’ (LVS) Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is located. LVS’ chief executive Sheldon Adelson is the most vocal and high-profile supporter of a blanket online gaming ban in the US.

This attempt was defeated in part by the PPA, which launched a major lobbying effort to erode any potential support for the addition. With such little support for the amendment, Dent removed the language, although he warned that he would renew efforts at a later date.

“It’s not over but it’s a small victory for our side and shows there is no an appetite for that sort of legislation particularly when done in that way,” Pappas commented.

He criticised attempts to “sneak through” anti-iGaming language rather than have “up-down” Senate and House votes on the issue.


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