The fate of the online poker industry currently hangs in the balance at the federal level as a pair of bills tries to make their way through chambers. The first bill, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), looks to permanently ban most forms of online gambling in the United States. The other, the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015, looks to legalize the game nationwide.
As lawmakers consider which side of the fence they reside on, a new option may be under consideration in the near future. This option wouldn’t completely ban online gambling, but would do the next best thing for anti-gambling advocates in the short term.
Bill Could Put a Moratorium on Internet Gambling Expansion
According to an article from IJI Law, an alternative proposal to RAWA is currently being considered by some lawmakers. This bill would commission a federal study on iGaming and impose a moratorium on iGaming expansion in states where it is not yet legal.
What exactly does this mean? This means that states that already have some type of online gambling, such as New Jersey, would be able to continue expanding but states such as California and New York would be unable do so.
Moratorium Could Hurt or Cripple U.S. iGaming Industry
A moratorium on iGaming expansion in the United States would effectively accomplish most of what RAWA intended from the start. While New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada would be able to continue offering online poker, there would be zero room for growth.
Most everyone realizes that the future of online gambling is interstate or even a national network. Many states would not benefit from strictly intrastate iGaming. New Jersey would possibly be the only exception due to their population but a prolonged moratorium on expansion would ultimately kill growth and over time, their profits would erode as well.
Does This Proposal Have a Chance at Passing?
A federal moratorium on iGaming expansion would likely be met with serious challenges from the states considering such expansions. California, New York and Pennsylvania would be at the front of the line of those states that could potentially sue over Congress usurping states rights and this matter, if passed, could head to the federal court system.
The only way that such a proposal would get through Congress is if there was a limit on the moratorium. By this, we mean that Congress sets a deadline for the study to be completed and setting the moratorium to end six months after said study ends.
While some states might still fight such a proposal, others would likely just roll with the punches realizing that the ban would be short lives. A short-term ban isn’t the ultimate goal of Adelson but may be something he would accept if that was the only alternative.