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Chaffetz Promotes Internet Gambling Ban with Sensationalist Hearing

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chief sponsor of RAWA Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chief sponsor of RAWA[/caption] Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) hopes to breathe new legislative life into his attempt to federal ban internet gambling by holding a hysteria-filled hearing before the House Oversight Committee next week. Chaffetz, as chairman of that committee in Congress, is the chief sponsor of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), which would federally overturn state laws on internet-based gambling and prohibit it in all states. RAWA is strongly supported by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who views internet-based gambling as a threat to his brick-and-mortar casinos. The hearing, set for December 9 of next week, is titled “A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications.” The campaign to federally ban internet-based gambling by passing RAWA is supported by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), a group heavily funded and supported by Adelson. CSIG is employing hysterical claims and scare tactics about internet-based gambling including claims it will allow rampant money laundering, financing of terrorism, fraud, and other criminal activity. The problem with that argument is that it applies not to what they oppose, but to off-shore illegal gambling that neither our states nor our federal government have any control over. Those seeking gambling sites to engage in such illegal activities will find overseas havens. State legalized and regulated internet-based gambling, in the states choose to allow it, will employ technology to protect the web sites and their users from all of those illegal activities CSIG mentions in their extreme claims about state-regulated online gambling. Given that the argument about money laundering and other criminal activity is one of the most prominent claims by CSIG about state-regulated online gambling, it can be expected that these arguments will dominate the show hearing that will be held by Rep. Chaffetz’s House Oversight Committee next week. Adelson, who is the major financial backer behind CSIG and the politicians that support RAWA, including Rep. Chaffetz and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is not entirely opposed to gambling, given he’s becoming a billionaire from the Las Vegas casino industry, he simply opposes the expansion of internet-based gambling in many states because they would compete against his brick-and-mortar casinos in Las Vegas. New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada has passed legislation to legalized internet-based gambling in their states while Hawaii and Utah have enacted legislation to ban it. The regulation of gambling has been recognized, under the Tenth Amendment of our Constitution, as an area to be regulated and legislated by the individual states and not the federal government. Upholding Constitutional federalism, and defeating RAWA and other federal legislation on internet-based gambling recognizes the legitimate authority of each state to set their own laws and regulations regarding gambling. The freedom of the states, and the people of the states, to determine their state policies on gambling is far more important than the financial interests of one billionaire casino magnate who has invested tens of millions into an AstroTurf campaign to ban internet gambling, and the Washington politicians his money can buy. The hearing next week, to revive Adelson’s and Chaffetz’s RAWA legislation, is a show hearing to attempt to revive an idea that has little support in Congress and a great deal of opposition from many grass-roots conservative and liberty-oriented citizen groups. At a time when there are very real threats to our national security, that do not include a few states allowing gambling on the internet, the House Oversight Committee should cancel this hearing and instead focus on the real threats to our security. This hearing being scheduled by Rep. Chaffetz simply proves how out of touch politicians in Washington are with the world the rest of us live in.  ]]>

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