Sheldon Adelson‘s list of supporters for his proposed iGaming ban is longer than many people realize. His adherents may not have brought along conservative and libertarian groups in the numbers the opposition has, but the individuals who have spoken up on his behalf are not to be counted lightly.
Adelson’s staunchest allies in the fight to ban online gambling are the chairs of the lobby group he himself created, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling or CSIG. Over the course of 2014 CSIG Chairpersons Blanche Lincoln, Willie Brown, George Pataki, and Wellington Webb have written op-eds, created YouTube videos, and made television appearances espousing Adelson’s views on online gambling.
Adelson has also unleashed his right hand man Andy Abboud to conferences, state houses, and the airwaves, as well as Mercury Public Affair’s Fabien Nunez who helped spearhead Adelson’s efforts to thwart online poker expansion in California.
Adelson is opposed by virtually every other casino interest when it comes to online gambling, but he does have one seemingly staunch ally, along with one tepid ally.
John Farahi, The owner of Monarch Casino has thrown his lot in with Adelson, which came as a bit of a surprise considering Farahi’s Atlantis Casino in Reno, NV was one of the companies that applied for an online poker license.
Adelson also has an ally in Steve Wynn, but Wynn’s opposition (which is probably too strong a word to describe his online gambling stance) is based solely on the casino magnate’s belief that in the current environment there is no money to be made in online gambling.
Another strange coincidence is that several of the letters seem to be carbon copies, or at the very least, heavily drawn from others.
The biggest names in Adelson’s stable are the Governors he has recruited to his cause. All five governors are serious political players, and four of the five have, or are rumored to have, serious aspirations for higher office.
Adelson’s growing list of governors includes Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Texas Governor and former Presidential candidate Rick Perry, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and Floria Governor Rick Scott. and have called for a federal ban.
Like most advocates of an online gambling ban, the governors seem to have adopted the arguments and talking points of Adelson and CSIG whole cloth; it’s as if they are reading off of the same script.
Sheldon Adelson’s lawyers are believed to be the authors of a proposed federal online gambling ban, as it closely matches a bill draft Adelson floated in January, called the Internet Gambling Control Act. The federal bill built on this framework was introduced in March of 2014, and was dubbed the Restoration of America’s Wire Act or RAWA for short.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced RAWA into the U.S. House of Representatives and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did the honors in the U.S. Senate, but both are believed to have done so at the behest of Adelson – Chaffetz has long been a critic of online gambling while the issue is completely novel to Graham.
RAWA received modest support following its introduction.
The senate version of RAWA was cosponsored by longtime gambling opponent Diane Feinstein (D-CA) as well as two republicans, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Kelly Ayotte.
In the House of Representatives RAWA support is a bit more robust, particularly on the House Judiciary Committee which would be the bill’s first stop in the legislative process.
Original co-sponsors from the House of Representatives who joined Jason Chaffetz in support of an online gambling ban were:
- Cleaver, Emanuel [D-MO]
- Franks, Trent [R-AZ]
- Gabbard, Tulsi [D-HI]
- Holding, George [R-NC]
- Jordan, Jim [R-OH]
- Lankford, James [R-OK]
- Matheson, Jim [D-UT]
- Smith, Lamar [R-TX]
- Wolf, Frank [R-VA]
A like number of cosponsors were added between June 19 and July 22:
- Dent, Charles [R-PA]
- Rogers, Mike [R-MI]
- Forbes, Randy [R-VA]
- Gowdy, Trey [R-SC]
- King, Steve [R-IA]
- Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL]
- Gohmert, Louie [R-TX]
- Richmond, Cedric [D-LA]
- Bachus, Spencer [R-AL]
Interestingly, a total of 11 of the 19 sponsors/cosponsors of RAWA in the House belong to the House Judiciary Committee: Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Jim Jordan (R-OH), George Holding (R-NC), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and of course Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).