Harry Reid RAWA Support Means Bill Will Likely Return in 2015

Posted on: December 15, 2014, 02:46h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2014, 02:53h.

Harry Reid Sheldon Adelson RAWA 2015
Harry Reid says that RAWA, or another online gambling ban measure, is likely to be reintroduced to Congress again next year. (Image: reid.senate.gov)

RAWA, also known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, the online poker ban that has been strongly pushed by Sheldon Adelson, is likely to be introduced to Congress again in 2015. That’s the word from Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who will no longer be the Senate Majority Leader when he returns for the next legislative session.

“I think there will be efforts made to look at the Wire Act in a Republican-initiated Congress, yes I do,” Reid said. “I think there will be efforts made to get rid of the Wire Act.”

By getting rid of the Wire Act, Reid appears to mean that he’d like to see legislation put into place that would create a law to replace (or simply reword) the current Wire Act, which was reinterpreted to apply only to sports betting in 2011. That critical interpretation allowed for states to regulate other forms of online gambling over the past three years.

Lame Duck Effort Fails for RAWA

Adelson, the billionaire casino tycoon who is the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, had hoped to attach RAWA to the year-end omnibus spending bills. However, the lame-duck session effort ultimately failed, with congressional leaders seemingly uninterested in adding on a potentially contentious rider to the must-pass “cromnibus” legislation.

Reid has long been a supporter in general of the gaming industry, and once served as the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. But while he has tried in the past to regulate online poker at the federal level, his overall stance on Internet gaming had been much less clear, and in recent days, it has become obvious that his stance on the issue is much closer to Adelson’s than many may have thought.

“I think the proliferation of gambling on the Internet is not good for our country,” Reid said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I think it is an invitation to crime. I think it is hard to control for crime when you’ve got brick-and-mortar places, let alone something up in the sky someplace, and it is very bad for children.”

Reid Says No Deal with Adelson for 2016

Statements like that have led some to speculate that Reid might have struck a deal with his long-time friend Adelson, one in which Reid would push for an online gambling ban while Adelson would agree not to fund Reid’s next Republican opponent in his 2016 election bid. But Reid denied that such an alliance had ever been considered between the two.

“Sheldon Adelson and I have been friends for a long time but on politics he and I don’t agree, so we don’t do politics,” Reid said.

Critically for fans of online poker, though, Reid confirmed that he would still try to keep a lifeline open for the game should an online gambling ban gain steam in Congress.

“If there is a chance to [regulate] poker, I will do that,” Reid said. He noted that there might have been an opening for poker had RAWA been placed into the omnibus bill, though the timing would have been difficult given the frenzy of action in the last few days before it ultimately passed.

But since RAWA never got close to being a part of the bill, he “had no chance to do anything” to protect poker.