Pennsylvania Rep. Among Cosponsors of Anti-Online Gambling Bill

While many in Pennsylvania are working towards legalizing online gambling, Keystone State Representative Charles Dent is hoping to block it.

Dent is one of the cosponsors of the Sheldon Adelson backed bill dubbed the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The legislation seeks to slap a federal ban on online gaming by reinterpreting the Wire Act to prohibit iGaming and explicitly ban the industry.

The bill was introduced this week by Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, (D-Hawaii). Aside from Dent, five other Republican Congressmen have signed on as cosponsors, including Lamar Smith of Texas, Trent Franks of Arizona, Steve King of Iowa, George Holding of North Carolina and Randy Forbes of Virginia.

RAWA was written by a lobbyist of Sheldon Adelson’s and was pushed by Chaffetz and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham last year. The pair came dangerously close to getting the legislation passed by attaching it to an important spending bill last December.

The legislation intends to ban online gambling by reverting the Wire Act to its previous scope. Originally, authorities used the act as justification to crack down on iGaming sites, but in 2011, the DOJ changed its opinion on the legislation and decided that it should only be applied to sports betting. The decision opened the door for states like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware to open up their states to online gambling companies.

If Chaffetz and Dent get their way, those states will be forced to shutter those sites.

Fixing a nonexistent problem

Chaffetz believes that existing security controls are not enough to keep out children from playing on iGaming sites. “I don’t see any way that technology can just alone solve this problem,” he said. “It’s so easy to bypass. You get a smart 14-year-old in here …”

But as groups like the Poker Players Alliance have stated, the legislation seeks to fix a nonexistent issue. Security measures put in place by online gambling sites are extremely strict, and the chance of children bypassing those controls is very small. Furthermore, virtually no such issues have been reported since regulated online gambling kicked off in the US. And all the while, Sheldon Adelson’s casinos continue to be fined for allowing underage individuals to gamble and even drink.

Speaking to the media, Chaffetz didn’t deny that Adelson played a part in the bill. “He is an active player,” Chaffetz said. “I’m glad he is supporting our bill. You have active people on both sides of this issue. There is a lot on the line and I’m glad he agrees with me on this one.”

It’s no secret that the casino mogul is pushing for the passage of anti-online gambling legislation in order to protect his physical casinos. Adelson feels that Internet gambling is a threat to his business and is using all his political capital to put a stop to it.