Jason Chaffetz RAWA

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz says that if state lottery officials don’t like RAWA, they should “get their own bill.” (Image: AP)

The Congressional committee hearing of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the bill that seeks to prohibit online gaming on a federal level, has been rescheduled for March 26.

The hearing, which was initially due to take place on March 5 but was postponed due to severe weather in Washington DC, has been criticized, because the list of witnesses due to testify consisted largely of online gaming opponents.

Despite this, the gambling industry shouldn’t worry too much, as the bill still has very little chance of becoming law, and remains an unpopular piece of legislation on Capitol Hill. But that’s not the only calamity surrounding the measure’s proponents.

Take Congressman Brad Ashford (D-NE), for example. While listening to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last week, Ashford was struck accidentally by Dr. Miriam Adelson’s purse; the doctor, of course, is none other than Mrs. Sheldon Adelson, who is one of RAWA’s greatest supporters. The item in question had fallen from the ledge above where she herself was sitting.

Change of Heart

Fortunately for Ashford, the super-rich don’t seem to carry large amounts of cash around with them, and so he survived, although the potentially near-death experience apparently changed the way he saw the world. Two days later, he became the latest politico to sign his name in support of the Adelson-backed RAWA.

Meanwhile, Adelson’s right-hand man, Andy Abboud, suggested in a recent interview with Gambling Compliance that his boss is “unlikely to accept exemptions for state lotteries and tribes in a bill to prohibit Internet gambling.”

The fact that RAWA insists on dismantling online state lotteries is, in fact, one of the main reasons it is likely to fail. The states will almost certainly fight it. Currently over 12 states offer some form of Internet lottery sales, and at least one, possibly Kentucky, is expected to come on board this year. Meanwhile a dozen more are debating the issue.

“Get Your Own Bill”

You might think that Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, who reintroduced RAWA to Congress earlier this year, would want to reason with the 20 state lottery officials he spoke to this week during a conference call to discuss the bill. Instead, he decided to snap at their officials.

If you don’t like RAWA, he chided, “get your own bill.”

Meanwhile, over in South Carolina, technophobe Senator Lindsey Graham, one of RAWA’s most vociferous supporters, revealed this week that he has never sent an email in his life, despite being an apparent expert on the problems of Internet money laundering.

He does, however, appear to know how to receive them, especially if they’re invitations to fundraising parties at Sheldon Adelson’s house.