Lawmakers Plan New Strategy With An iGaming “Study” Moratorium

sheldon-adelson-online-gambling-opposition1Over the past years, many legislators against iGaming have attempted to pass federal Bills to block its legalization. On every occasion, these attempts have been stopped dead in their tracks.  This is mainly due to that fact that iGaming is an issue in direct opposition to the 10th amendment, and a states right to self-legislate on unconstitutional topics. IGaming falls directly into this field and, therefore, no laws against it have ever managed to pass on the national level. Even so, there are still many opponents to iGaming who are always on the lookout for a new way to make it illegal.

One such person, Sheldon Adelson, has thought up a new plan. Adelson is behind the Restoration of America’s Wire Act legislation (RAWA) which attempted to bring back the 1668 gambling act. He told Forbes in 2013 that he would spend “whatever it takes” to stop online gambling from spreading. With this latest attempt, it is clear that Adelson still has not given up hope. Since the RAWA full online prohibition plan was a flop, the next attempt has been disguised as a “study” moratorium. This would be a two-year moratorium to prevent any state from legalizing online gambling while an official federal study is made. While this would not affect New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, it would put a halt to the seven other states that are currently attempting to get iGaming legalized.

However, according to John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, “an internet gambling moratorium is nothing more than prohibition in sheep’s clothing… They can’t get RAWA through the front door, so they are trying to squeeze it through the back.” If a temporary moratorium does get passed, it would be an easy step for the federal government to continue the ban past the two-year mark. For example, the study could easily be stretched longer and ruled as inconclusive at the two-year marks. Essentially, this Bill gives the federal government a foothold in this state matter.

Pappas goes on to say that “A moratorium is even more troubling for the notion of states’ rights and the 10th Amendment. It would give favored status to those states that already offer regulated iGaming and put the brakes on others who want to provide these consumer protections to their citizens. Of even greater concern, a moratorium does nothing to stop the unlicensed, unregulated overseas operators from continuing to flourish in the U.S. marketplace. It only tells states they can’t exercise responsible oversight.”  

The question now is; what are the odds that the moratorium will pass Congress? Probably not high. Most agree that Congress members will not want to risk an attempt on running the legislative process for a borderline issue with little support. It’s also questionable as to whether or not iGaming is a state or federal issue. If it weren’t for the fact that this moratorium is being backed by a major GOP donor, it would likely not have even made it on the table in the first place.

This moratorium should be given the same status that any blanket ban would get. Temporary or permanent, it is still in violation to the 10th amendment, and it would pose a major loss of time and money for many states.


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