As casino magnate Sheldon Adelson promised last fall, efforts to restore a federal ban on Internet gambling (and eliminate his competition) are pushing forward. Rep. Jason Chavetz of Utah and Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, both Republicans, are introducing legislation to make Internet gambling illegal. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
A draft that has been circulating on Capitol Hill declares the legislation would "restore longstanding United States policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling." Its goals are consistent with the highly publicized campaign by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson to outlaw Web gaming.
In recent years, Congress has been unable to sustain momentum for any piece of gambling legislation, pro or con.
But lobbyists say a wild card this time is Adelson, the megadonor to Republicans and their causes who believes online gambling is unsafe and bad for society and who has vowed to spend "whatever it takes" to stop its spread.
Online gambling is unsafe and bad for society, but the legislation apparently excludes betting on horse races, so if anybody thought the legislation wasn't cynical nonsense, there you go. Matt K. Lewis at The Daily Caller speculates that exemption is there as a way to get Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on board.
Adelson's competitors in the casino business, many of whom are fine with the growth in online gambling, have started their own activist group to oppose Adelson's:
GM Resorts and the American Gaming Association have launched a competing group, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, with former Republican Reps. Mary Bono, R-Calif., and Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, as spokespersons. It advocates legalized online gaming, regulated to protect gamblers.
"Banning all online gaming nationwide, as this bill effectively does, would put American consumers at serious risk," Bono said in a statement Wednesday. "It is impossible to stand in the way of the Internet; instead, we should embrace and shape these new technologies in a way that is safe for consumers."