Rep. Charlie Dent Trying RAWA Sneak Attack Again

Anti Online-Gambling RAWA Language Yanked from US House Appropriations Consideration

Chalk up another loss for Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson.  On Tuesday, the US House Appropriations Committee considered but failed to adopt a briefly-proposed amendment to this year’s CJS [Commerce, Justice and Science] appropriations bill plans that would have stealthily inserted language into the US’s federal budget comparative to that contained within the failed, Adelson-funded “RAWA” [Restoration of America’s Wire Act] bill.

congressAdelson had already succeeded in getting such language inserted into the US Senate’s version of the appropriations measure, via an earmark inserted into the Senate recommendations last week.  That language, which had no business being inserted into a budget bill, was inserted by US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a paid ally of Adelson and supporter of Adelson’s anti-gambling interests.

Graham, as noted here last week, was the Senate’s primary sponsor of the RAWA bill which failed last year.  His insertion of the RAWA-equivalent earmark, which would have effectively rescinded an important US Attorney General’s opinion from 2011 that defined the 1961 Wire Act to apply only to sports betting.  Graham’s (and Adelson’s) preference remains a blanket, US-wide prohibition over almost all conceivable forms of online gambling, the better to serve both Adelson’s business interests and Graham’s own Puritan views.

The problem facing Graham and Adelson, however, is that the vampire-style insertion in the Senate appropriations bill was only half the battle.  In order for the democracy-violating ploy to work, matching language had to be inserted in the US House of Representative’s own version of the appropriations measure, which is what was being considered this week.

Yet in the span of days between Graham’s ploy and the House considering its version of the appropriations bill, the word got out.  And as a result, the House Appropriations Committee Member who had been tasked by Adelson to submit the RAWA language as an amendment to the bill, US Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) was forced to immediately withdraw the proposed amendment in the face of overwhelming opposition… from both sides of the US political aisle.

As Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas put it, Tweeting the proceedings on the PPA’s Twitter feed, “They are ‘marking-up’ CJS bill now. Likely Rep. Dent will offer, then withdraw his RAWA amdt. Has heard from every corner in opposition.”

That’s how it player out.  Dent duly submitted is amendment, likely a requirement of his lobbying deal with Adelson’s minions, and then pulled the amendment from consideration.  And then, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment offered by another Appropriations Committee member, US Representative John Culberson (R-TX), that vowed to protect the states’ rights regarding gambling matters that the Adelson-funded RAWA bill sought to supercede.

The House Appropriations Committee, maintaining its own Twitter feed of the markup proceedings, announced that amendment as follows: “The committee approved a @CongCulberson amendment to reaffirm states rights to preserve their autonomy through the use of the legal system.”

With that, the earmark inserted by Graham in the Senate’s version of the bill will almost certainly fail, since the two pieces of language cannot be reconciled.  The Culberson amendment will also likely be yanked for the same reason, which leaves the non-RAWA status quo in place.

Despite the latest defeat for RAWA, it’s still unlikely that we’ve heard the last of it.  The bill’s primary backer, Adelson, is a multi-billionaire who’s shown himself willing to spend heavily to achieve his goals via underhanded and surreptitious means.  More legislative tricks from the Graham/Rubio/Chaffetz/Dent crowd, trying to slide a RAWA ban into place despite the will of the people and the states, seems all but certain.

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