Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), co-sponsor of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), has announced he will run as a candidate for Speaker of the House, promising to bring “a fresh start, a fresh face,” to the office.

Jason Chaffetz Speaker of the House RAWA

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz has his eye on the Speaker’s office in Congress, and is determined to ban online gambling in America. (Image: Cliff Owen/AP)

Giving possible pause to America’s online gambling industry, his candidacy could also bring a man who wants nothing less than a blanket prohibition of online gambling to the third most powerful office in America.

RAWA’s proponents want to overturn the Department of Justice’s 2011 legal opinion, which asserted that the Wire Act prohibits only sports betting over the Internet. This effectively permitted the state-by-state regulation of online poker and casino games.

The bill allows no carve-out for the three states that have chosen to legalize and regulate online gaming, nor does it make provisions for the dozen or so states that have legalized online lotteries already in place.

Chaffetz a Long Shot

“To have gaming on every smartphone on the country, I just think it’s a bad idea,” Chaffetz said in March of 2014 when RAWA was first introduced. “This is just the beginning. I am afraid that if we don’t move quickly and get some decent regulations in place, which we really don’t have right now, it will be too late to stop it from reaching all the states.

“Many parents already can see how easy it is for a kid to get addicted to a video game that does not involve money. You put them on the Internet and they are gambling with money, now you have a real problem,” he added at that time.

Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which recently held a hearing on RAWA, holds only an outside chance of succeeding the outgoing John Boehner to the Speaker’s office.

House Republicans are expected to vote for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as their nominee, although Chaffetz could well appeal to disgruntled GOPers who want a candidate that might make life more difficult for Obama and the Democrats.

Internal Strife

Republicans are scheduled to vote for their official nominee on Thursday, but the subsequent speaker election on the House floor, when legislators from both parties can vote, may be less predictable.

”Kevin McCarthy has the votes within the House Republican conference to win the speaker’s position,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told The Wall Street Journal. “What happens on the floor of the House of Representatives remains to be seen.”

“I don’t think [the voters] want to automatically promote the existing leadership team,” said Chaffez in an interview with MSNBC on Friday.

“There is a lot of internal strife,” the Utah representative added. “There is a gulf, and a divide [within House Republicans], that needs to be brought together.”