If you’re not familiar with Ron Paul, he was a 2008 and 2012 presidential candidate who is a staunch supporter of states’ rights and limited federal government. He is also a critical opponent of what he calls “cronyism” – which is, in a nutshell, when politicians become influenced by their rich donors.
That’s exactly what Paul believes is happening in the case of the “Restore America’s Wire Act”, or RAWA. This act was introduced in 2014 and aims to make ALL internet gambling completely illegal in all 50 states. This act would not only prevent states from legalizing internet gaming within their own borders, but it would also outlaw internet gambling in three states where it’s already legal – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
RAWA was introduced by Lindsey Graham and co-sponsored Marco Rubio, who are both influential voices within the Republican Party and 2016 GOP presidential candidates. In a column he wrote in U.S. World News (SOURCE), Paul points the finger directly at Graham and Rubio for being guilty of the hypocrisy that comes along with politicians taking money from wealthy influencers. He makes all the right points to back up his argument, too. Conservatives have been long-associated with supporting limited government and defending personal liberties, so why would these two self-proclaimed Republicans support a ban on something that does nothing to harm American citizens? Well, according to Paul, it’s because their rich casino mogul friend Sheldon Adelson stands to lose a lot of money if internet gambling were to take off.
Adelson, who is the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is a huge name in the casino industry. He owns several brick-and-mortar casinos and has more money than most of us can even fathom. He also has a track record of using his extensive wealth to influence those in power. Paul doesn’t mention him by name in the U.S. News article, but did call him out publicly in a 2014 blog post on his non-profit site, The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. In reference to the attempt to ban internet gambling via RAWA, Paul said:
“Mr. Adelson, who is perhaps best known for using his enormous wealth to advance a pro-war foreign policy, is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.” (SOURCE)
He then implicitly accuses the political supporters of RAWA of having a nice place to call home inside Adelson’s pocket. He also makes the assertion that any GOP presidential hopeful who supports a ban on internet gambling will inevitably lose the conservative youth vote, since young voters today expect Republican candidates to lead the fight against political cronyism and increased federal regulation.
Paul goes on to say that even everyday Americans who are outside Adelson’s grasp have what they think is a good reason to oppose internet gambling. They think that gambling in and of itself is “immoral” and they would like to see people turn away from it. This thinking is flawed, Paul states on his blog, for two reasons:
- If people want to gamble, they are going to do it, whether it’s legal or illegal. Making all internet gambling illegal will not stop it, but only create an “online gambling market controlled by criminals.”
- The federal government has no constitutional right to ban internet gambling. He went on to say “prohibiting behavior that does not involve force or fraud has no place in a free society.” (SOURCE)
Paul also states that RAWA poses a very real concern of creating a new avenue for government surveillance, reminiscent of the PATRIOT Act. He claims that RAWA’s passage will give the government a new reason to spy on the online activities of all American citizens, whether they participate in online gambling or not. If nothing else about this article scares you, this part should.
Even though it seems like a bit of a stretch to go from banning internet gambling to spying on Americans, it makes some sense. If you think about it, how else would the ban be enforced? Imagine the feds were keeping an eye on every website they thought was conducting illegal gambling – because in this scenario there are no online casinos anymore. So they’d not only be surveilling the private citizens running the websites, they’d be tracking every single person who visited those sites, even if those people stumbled upon it by accident or were just curious and never actually gambled on anything.
Although he’s no longer directly in the political spotlight, Ron Paul makes some interesting points by bringing all of these concerns about RAWA to light. The possible ban of internet gambling is an issue with which everyone should be concerned, whether you participate in internet gambling or not.