What Impact Would RAWA Have on Vegas Online Poker Businesses?
The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was introduced as a bipartisan piece of legislation on June 24 of this year. It is sponsored by republican Senator Lindsey Graham and democratic senator Dianne Feinstein. A similar bill was previously presented in the House of Representatives , also with bipartisan sponsorship. In essence, the bill makes all forms of online gambling illegal throughout the United States. Just a few years ago, the DOJ released an interpretation of the Federal Wire Act that declared the law was only applicable to sports betting. Following this clarification by the Department of Justice, three states proceeded to established state licensed and regulated online gambling platforms that offered online casino and poker gambling to their residents: New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. This was the birth of Vegas online poker destinations.
Supporters of RAWA attempt to paint online gambling as predatory and dangerous. When asked what would happen in those states that have already established and invested in an online an gambling infrastructure, the response is that these states simply shouldn’t have taken the risk. There is no concern by them at all regarding the financial damage the states would incur and the job loss that would take place. These individuals believe that the Federal Wire Act should never have been restricted to sports betting, and that it was intended to prohibit online gambling in all its forms. They play the ‘our kids are in danger’ card, hoping to demonize the industry enough to get America behind them.
Another popular argument of the RAWA supporters is that online gambling traffic threatens to cannibalize the top existing land based casino and card room industry. This is unfounded based on Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey’s success at maintaining both a land based and online gambling presence. The sponsors of the bill also try to portray that there is a wide range of support for their legislation throughout the House and Senate. This is not the case, and the bill is not gaining momentum among congress or the Senate. However, this doesn’t mean that Nevada or any state is completely immune to it. Should the climate change in the House or Senate, this law could be very dangerous to Nevada’s online poker gambling initiative.
If passed, the law would redefine the reach of the Federal Wire Act and could eliminate all state regulated online gambling businesses, rendering their licensing null and void. Should the bill actually be embraced, it would ensure that the DOJ could not edit or alter the interpretation of the Federal Wire Act in the future. It is imperative that those players who love online poker, and those citizens who love states’ rights speak up and contact their representatives in the House and Senate and urge them to not support RAWA! Passage of this bill would limit access for US online poker players in Nevada and any other states to only legally licensed offshore online poker destinations that accept US players. The forced elimination of state regulated online poker sites that fought hard to exist would be a devastating defeat to states’ rights and the poker community.