Adelson’s RAWA Anti-Online Gambling Ban Omitted From Government Spending Bill

Sheldon AdelsonRestore America’s Wire Act, also known as the RAWA anti-online gambling bill, will not form a part of the federal omnibus spending bill, ending the speculation that Sheldon Adelson, a casino tycoon and chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which operates The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas casinos, might find some way to maneuver the bill through the legislative process at least for the time being.

This year’s omnibus spending bill was getting a lot of attention from the online poker community because it was viewed as a likely target for special lobbyist groups that saw it as an opportunity to include a small addition to the government spending bill that lawmakers could potentially approve at the last minute.

Sound all too familiar? It is because this is precisely what happened when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) became law in 2006. This came about because the UIGEA act was attached to the SAFE Port Act on the final day of Congress, which addressed port security issues relating to post 9/11 security concerns.

This time around, however, there was speculation that Senator Harry Reid might be working with Sheldon Adelson to get the RAWA act added to the pending spending bull during the lame duck session. With Harry Reid facing the potential loss of control in the Senate in his 2016 re-election bid in Nevada, it’s not unthinkable that he might help pass Adelson’s RAWA to ban online gambling in the United States, since it would likely result in Adelson not funding his opponent’s political campaign, which he has been known for doing in the past.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has previously expressed support for anti-online gambling legislation, but provided an exclusion for online poker because it’s seen as a game of skill instead of a game of chance, much like Nevada’s legalized online gaming industry today, which offers regulated online poker but no other forms of real money online gambling.

The irony of it all is that Adelson is a billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate, and his casino properties in Las Vegas offer mobile sports betting, which is essentially a form of gambling online. Adelson also thinks that online gambling will cannibalize land-based casino revenue, which again ironically, even with the Atlantic City casino closures, is better now than ever before. A market which previously had two major players, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, has since changed and seen its power shift to to neighbouring state Pennsylvania, which is now the second largest casino market in the United States. Pennsylvania only stands behind Las Vegas.

Online gambling in the United States where it’s legal has disappointed hugely in terms of revenue. Ultimate Gaming closed its doors in the legalized Nevada market after struggling to make a profit. The state-by-state approach to online gaming has made it extremely difficult for operators to create viable gaming sites, although the revenues derived from online gambling is still viewed by many as necessary to boost the economy and tax revenues.

Officials from Caesars Entertainment, which owns and operates online gaming sites in New Jersey and Nevada, expressed their pleasure with the omission of any anti-online gambling ban in the United States. Caesars Senior Vice President Jan Jones Blackhurst said. “We’re pleased this issue will be discussed openly and not hidden in some omnibus bill.

So Adelson will need to shelve his plans for the rest of the year. Reid said in a brief comment that “If we can’t get it into the omnibus, it won’t be in anything.” Despite their political differences, Reid and Adelson have a friendly relationship, even though the casino tycoon is a major donor to the Republican Party, a recipe which could bode well in the future.