Saturday November 26, 2016 at 9:39 pm
SCOOP

Talk about the Grinch who stole Christmas! Beth Johnson from The Hill recently reported that Congress might backdoor legislation that would outlaw online gambling. There's one scary rumor in Washington, D.C. that a Lame Duck Congress will do the unthinkable and pass RAWA. Will Republican Leadership do one last favor for their sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson, who is not shy about his positions on anti-online gambling, specifically online poker?

Rawa Reprise

Just when you thought politics in America couldn't sink any lower, there's this piece from The Hill that freaked me out when Beth Johnson wrote: "Rumors on Capitol Hill suggest that Republican Leadership might be willing to do the unthinkable -- pass legislation in the Lame Duck session that tramples on the Constitution to benefit one of their biggest benefactors."

Casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson has been a sugar daddy for Republican politicians for decades. He donked off millions backing Newt Gingrich's run for the White House. He's also been spearheading a campaign to outlaw online gambling, particularly online poker. He spent millions of his own wealth waging a war on the online gaming industry, despite the fact that states like Nevada and New Jersey have legalized and regulated gambling.

Adelson and his lobbyist pals have been drumming up support for RAWA (a.k.a. Restoration of America's Wire Act). The Wire Act had become outdated in modern times with technological innovation. The government tweaked it recently, which opened the door for states to legalize and regulate intra-state online gaming. Adelson saw that as a threat and launched his scorched Earth campaign to bring down the entire online gaming industry with RAWA. The anti-online gambling bill was introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina...one of many politicians in Adelson pocket.

Adelson also funded the fear-mongering lobby group Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which uses absurd scenarios to convince wholesome, hardworking Americans that terrorists are utilizing online gambling sites to launder blood money and that online poker will ruin our children's lives. The FBI has not linked online gambling sites with terrorist groups, so that assertion is total bullshit and scaremongering.

RAWA never got any legit steam and essentially died earlier this year. However, according to an article from The Hill, Adelson donated millions to Republican candidates in September and many of them might pay back the tribute by passing RAWA for Adelson.

Wait, what? Yes, it's true. Here's what Beth Johnson wrote...

Beth Johnson, The Hill

In late September, Adelson 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.

Did Adelson spend his money on principle or did he to achieve his legislative objective? Rumors have been swirling on Capitol Hill that the GOP leadership is looking to thank the casino owner by including his RAWA legislation into a major spending bill that will close out the current Congress. That would be a betrayal to the American people and everything they stood for this election season.

There is nothing good about RAWA -- it violates just about every core conservative principle there is. It bullies the state. It opens the door to Internet regulation. It even threatens the Second Amendment by creating a precedent that the federal government can ban Internet sales of ammunition, no matter what state laws say.

RAWA's apologists claim that this bill is necessary to prevent money laundering that fuels terrorism networks. Any counter-terrorism or counterintelligence operative would tell you that these concerns are hogwash.

Violating the Constitution and Bill of Rights to reward a billionaire casino magnate would be a textbook example of cronyism and corruption.

The outlook for the future of online gaming looked grim once Trump and majority Republican Congress was elected. Everyone in the industry was expecting a fight down the line, but no one expected that a Lame Duck Congress would backdoor a ban on online gambling as a favor to their richest donor, Sheldon Adelson.

Let's hope this Lame Duck session of Congress follows protocol and does not pass any legislation before President Elect Trump takes office.

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