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Conservatives Push for Federal Bill to Ban Online Gambling

lindsey_graham5This week several more conservative groups have joined in the effort for Congress to ban online gambling. This will include states such as New Jersey and Delaware who currently allow it.

These groups include Focus on the Family and the Concerned Women for America; both Christian organizations that are also against abortion and same-sex marriage. This Wednesday they publicly sided with the chief sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, to help convince Congress to pass the legislation. This Restore America’s Wire Act would serve to overturn a 2011 ruling that gave each state the right to offer Internet gambling within their state.

Two Republican presidential candidates, the U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida, are sponsoring this bill in the Senate. According to Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring (a group that supports government spending cuts and call for a re-write of the tax code), “Internet gambling is a game changer… certainly any decision to undermine this law, and unleash Internet gambling on our country, should not be left to a lawyer burrowed in the Justice Department.”

Both of these conservative groups are also members of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, which is backed largely by the Last Vegas Sands Chairman, as well as Sheldon Adelson, its Chief Executive Officer. Adelson gave $93 million to Republican groups in 2012, including multi-million dollars to super-political action committees. All this, in an effort to see this anti-online gambling law come to fruition on a Federal level.

The bill, of course, has many opponents, and the Poker Players Alliance has doubled its lobbying expenses to make sure that this does not come to pass. Between January and September, they spent $580,000 compared with $275,000 from the same period the previous year.

Caesars Entertainment, a company that operates an online gambling site for New Jersey residents, is also helping to fund the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, and were reported to spend another $1.9 million this year on the cause.

John Pappas, the Executive Director of the Poker Players Group, states that this bill “does nothing to stop unregulated Internet gambling in the United States and in fact, only makes it harder for America’s law enforcement to protect vulnerable consumers.” He also thinks it is “particularly dangerous because it prohibits states from authorizing and safeguarding their own citizens.”

Even Chuck Canterbury, the President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, requested lawmakers on Wednesday to reject this legislation attempt. He believes that “A federal prohibition of online gaming would make our communities less safe, not more so.”

According to the State Division of Gaming Enforcement, New Jersey brought in a $120.5 million profit during its first year of operation. Online gambling could be a great way to help curb government funding problems, and many believe that it should not be passed over so quickly. Most likely, this bill is just another attempt by ultra-conservative groups to stop online gambling, which will probably not make it very far.