Failed presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has inserted into the giant Appropriations Bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee, language that would effectively ban internet-based gambling in all 50 states. Sen. Graham, who failed in his bid to run for president this year, did get support from billionaire Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. In return for this favor, Graham inserted the internet gambling ban provision into the spending bill, a measure strongly supported by Adelson because he sees online gambling as competition for his brick-and-mortar casinos.
Sneaky policy in Congress
In what was an underhanded way to make public #Policy, Sen. Graham slipped the internet gambling ban, quite similar to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill that he sponsored earlier this year in the U.S. Senate, along with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and the House sponsor of that bill, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).
The RAWA language was inserted into the huge spending bill in the Senate “at the request of Senator Graham,” the RAWA language was placed in the Appropriations Bill, according to Senate Appropriations Committee spokesperson Chris Gallegos.
Here is the language that appeared in the bill, similar to the key provisions of RAWA:
“Internet Gambling — Since 1961, the Wire Act has prohibited nearly all forms of gambling over interstate wires, including the Internet. However, beginning in 2011, certain states began to permit Internet gambling. The Committee notes that the Wire Act did not change in 2011. The Committee also notes that the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that ‘criminal laws are for courts, not for the #Government, to construe.’” Abramski v. U.S., 134 S. Ct. 2259, 2274 (2014) (internal citation omitted).
Which level of Government should decide?
The Constitution says the state level of government should decide whether internet-based gambling is legal, say advocates of federalism. This argument was strongly articulated by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who also stated that allowing the federal government to regulate or ban state-based regulated internet gambling will also allow it to prohibit the states from allowing the sales of firearms and ammunition online, in violation of the Second Amendment gun rights. These arguments were outlined in the hearing, held to promote RAWA, in the House committee whose chairman is Rep. Chaffetz. The hearings showed the issue is not one of Democrats vs. Republicans, because members of both parties opposed RAWA.
Not good news for Graham
The #News is not good for Graham and his effort to get the internet gambling ban passed, by having slipped it in the Appropriations Bill and hoping no one notices. The bill goes next to the House Appropriations Committee, whose chairman is Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), who can remedy this issue by removing the language before the bill heads to a Conference Committee and ultimately the White House for the president's signature into law. Advocates of federalism and the Tenth Amendment are strongly hoping that is what will happen. This will be bad news for Graham and Adelson, and their effort to shut down state regulated internet-based gambling, and great news for advocates of limited government.
Cronyism and Corruption
Sen. Graham was supported by Adelson, and now he does the favor for the billionaire casino owner, by quietly sneaking the internet gambling ban language into the Senate Appropriations Bill. But this cowardly act of legislative trickery has not gone unnoticed, and the very legislation that has strong grass-roots opposition from citizen groups, and little support on Capitol Hill from members of Congress, should find its way out of the Appropriations Bill before it becomes law. This is precisely the kind of corruption by politicians and special interest groups that has made the public grow so cynical, and has lead to Congress having an approval rating of about ten percent in the polls.