The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations will hold hearing to discuss the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) on Wednesday. This is the first step in a process that could result in Congress voting to make iGaming illegal in the United States.
Online gambling experts have been debating this bill ever since it was first filed back in 2014 but the reality is that there are three possible scenarios that could unfold for the bill. Even if the worst case scenario occurs, it does not mean the instant death of online poker in the United States.
RAWA Never Comes to a Vote and Dies
The scenario online poker would like to see unfold would be that opposition to RAWA grows to the point where it becomes unpassable, fails to reach a vote, and dies. This scenario is becoming more feasible as opposition to the bill mounts both at the state and Congressional levels.
A failure to reach a vote this year doesn’t mean that Adelson will abandon his fight. It will mean that he will move on to other tactics. However, it would be considered a monumental victory by iGaming lobbyists and online poker supporters across the country.
RAWA Goes to a Vote and Fails
Despite growing opposition to the bill, some believe that RAWA will go to a vote in Congress. At present, it is unclear the level of support that the bill has but it is by no means a “slam dunk” win nor a “hopeless cause.”
If RAWA goes to a Congressional vote and fails, it naturally will be viewed as a win by iGaming lobbyists. However, it will not necessarily mean the end of RAWA. The amount by which the bill falls short will go a long way in determining whether Adelson will try again next year.
For RAWA for die after reaching a vote, it would have to lose with a clear margin that cannot be swayed or bough.
RAWA Goes to a Vote and Passes
The worst case scenario as seen by iPoker supporters is RAWA reaching a vote and actually passing. While many believe that this will never happen, Adelson’s message is compelling to some and there is some belief that the bill has a shot.
Let’s assume for a minute that it passes. What then? Is the online poker industry in America history? Not without a fight.
First, remember the RAWA will not only make online poker illegal but it will also kill state lotteries. Expect those states with active online lottery programs to instantly go to federal court to try to block the bill.
Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware will likely follow suit with a challenge of the bill and this is a matter that will likely be tied up for some time in the courts.
RAWA at its core is an issue dealing with state rights and those states that it most directly impacts are going to fight to have it ruled unconstitutional. This fight could well go to the U.S. Supreme Court before a ruling is finally made.
The coming weeks will give us a better idea of where Congressional leaders stand on the issue. Wednesday’s hearing will help set the field and we should start hearing more from supporters as well as detractors.
By late May or June at the latest we could start having a clearer picture whether RAWA really has a chance to pass or whether this is posturing being done to satisfy an overly zealous billionaire.