Latest US House RAWA Bill Assigned to Crime & Terrorism Subcommittee

Updated: December 30th, 2016 by Dev Ops

The latest attempt by opponents of online gambling to institute a United States-wide ban on the activity is progressing on the first stages of its legislative journey, following this week’s assignment of the bill to the House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

This latest “RAWA” (Restoration of America’s Wire Act) measure had previously been assigned to the House Committee on the Judiciary following its initial reading, and from there on to the House Financial Services Committee.  The Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee is part of the Judiciary Committee’s responsibility, and includes among its members previous RAWA sponsor and endorser Rep. Jason Chaffetz [R-UT].  Chaffetz is almost certain to try to push this bill through the subcommittee and back to the full Judiciary, where he also sits.

congressThe bill, H.R. 6453, was introduced on December 7th in the House by Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick [Republican-PA], a noted backer of several anti-online gambling bills in the past.  The bill’s first two co-sponsors are Rep. Charles W. Dent [R-PA] and Rep. Bobby L. Rush [D-IL].

As has been the case with several previous RAWA bill in the past, this one bears all the hallmarks of having been crafted and funded by lobbyists and lawyers for Sheldon Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands Corporation.  Adelson and LV Sands continue their corporate jihad against online gambling and, as the US Congress’s 2017 legislative session begins, will have bills under consideration in both the US House and Senate.  Co-sponsor Dent comes the eastern Pennsylvania district [PA-15] that’s home to Adelson’s Bethlehem Sands casino, the only LV Sands property in the US other than those in Las Vegas.  Fitzpatrick, the bill’s primary sponsor, is from the Congressional district [PA-8] just south of Bethlehem and Allentown.  Both GOP pols are heavily influenced by Adelson dollars spent in their districts.  Illinois pol Rush is also from a Congressional district that’s home to a large land-based casino.

As for what the bill’s about, H.R 6453 treads the same ground as its approximate companion bill, S. 3376, which was introduced by US Sen. Tom Cotton [R-AL] in September.  Both bills seek to “restore” the US Department of Justice’s pre-2011 of the 1961 Wire Act by declaring the contentious opinion that US Attorney General Eric Holder issued that year to be null and void.  Holder’s opinion, which was sought by states such as New York and Illinois who sought to sell lottery tickets online, clarified that the old Wire Act applied only to sports betting, and not to other forms of gambling.

Backers of the various “RAWA” bills adhere to the believe that the old law was mean to cover all forms of gambling (except for horse racing, which has a separate carveout), despite the fact that only sports betting was mentioned specifically in the initial Wire Act.  The DOJ and Wire Act, both notoriously conservative agencies, tried for years to stretch the Wire Act to cover other forms of gambling, until Holder was sessentially forced to clarify that the old Wire Act really didn’t apply to those other gambling forms.

Despite the fact that the bills as written have serious legal and constitutional issues, H.R. 6453 and S. 3376 are the latest banner carriers for the RAWA crowd.  The problem: The bill attempts to nullify the job being done by the US’s Attorney General, despite the fact that what Holder did — examine and interpret the existing reach of the Wire Act within the framework of the Internet era — is exactly what the Attorney General is supposed to do.

Nonetheless, the US Congress again has these bills to clog up the political works.  Were it not for the outlandish political spending by multi-billionaire and GOP megadonor Adelson, such “crony capitalism” bills as this would never see the halls of Congress.

And with that, enjoy the preliminary text of H.R. 6453:

H. R. 6453

(Title)

To clarify the effect of a Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 7, 2016

Mr. Fitzpatrick introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To clarify the effect of a Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. MEMORANDUM NOT TO HAVE FORCE AND EFFECT OF LAW.

The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, dated September 20, 2011, and pertaining to the lawfulness of proposals by Illinois and New York to use the Internet and out-of-state transaction processors to sell lottery tickets to in-state adults (including the applicability of the Wire Act (18 U.S.C. 1084) and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (31 U.S.C. 5361–5367) to such proposal), does not carry the force of law and shall have no force and effect for purposes of interpreting or applying section 5362(a)(10) of title 31, United States Code.

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