RAWA Supporter May Consider Small Change to Legislation

Lindsay GrahamThe Restoration of America’s Wire Act is a piece of legislation that is currently being pushed by opponents of online poker and overall online gambling. Backed by Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson, the bill was introduced by Congressman John Chaffetz and supported by Congressman Lindsay Graham. Graham has been a major backer of the legislation, pushing the limits to get more supporters on board for the legislation. According to recent reports at such sites as Gambling Compliance, Graham has now stated he would be open to a small change to the RAWA legislation.

There have been many complaints in regards to the legislation, including those in the lottery industry. While online poker and casino gaming would be affected, lottery tickets sales would also be at risk of losing the opportunity to provide online ticket sales. Graham has now stated he would be open to allowing a carve-out for lotteries in individual states to sell such tickets online as well as offer lottery-style games.

Graham may also consider introducing his own version of RAWA later this year to try and increase the chance of an online gaming ban being made into law. Last year, the congressman introduced a bill against online poker, which never made it into legislation. The language of the RAWA bill would prohibit state lotteries from offering online lottery style games as well as selling tickets over the Internet. There are currently more than 12 states that offer lottery services online in some form of fashion, so several states would be affected.

To support online gaming options, the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries stated last year when RAWA was introduced that they are not in favor of a nationwide ban. State lotteries have been able to benefit from online gaming since the Wire Act was re-interpreted in 2011. The United States lottery industry is worth billion and would be greatly affected if such a ban was put in place.

If Graham creates his own legislation including a carve-out for lottery gaming or a carve-out is added to the RAWA legislation, this might hurt the poker industry. As of now, the lottery is a strong opponent to RAWA but if a carve-out was provided, the online poker industry could lose an ally. Part of the defensive strategy of the online poker community is the affect the bill will have on the lottery industry as well, which would not be affected if the carve-out was provided.

The legislation already has a carve-out for horse racing, fantasy sports betting and closed-circuit networks for gaming such as Las Vegas mobile sports betting. The language of the bill could easily be changed to include the lottery which would appease the lottery officials opposed to RAWA and also give the poker industry one less proponent for online gaming.

The RAWA legislation still has a ways to go in regards to the potential for the bill to become a law. News broke this week that Representative Joe Barton is planning on introducing an online poker bill in support of online gaming, which could be just what the online gambling industry needs to see the option come to fruition in any state.

Barton has only just announced he plans on creating an online poker bill on a federal level so any combative legislation towards RAWA would be in the early stages at this point. In the coming weeks we are sure to learn more about RAWA and any changes that may be made as well as be informed of the online poker bill plans in the works with Barton.