Tale of the Tape: Who Opposed Adelson’s Federal Online Gambling Ban

Written By Steve Ruddock on December 29, 2014 - Last Updated on September 13, 2022

The reasons are varied, and their opposition doesn’t necessarily translate into support of legal online gambling (particularly at the federal level) but Sheldon Adelson’s attempts to ram through a federal online gambling has sparked a number of groups to speak out in opposition to his efforts.

With the American Gaming Association (AGA) withdrawing from the online gambling debate, the advocates of online gambling are now being led by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), with some help from a newly formed group (created by iGaming friendly AGA members like Caesars and MGM) called the Coalition for Consumer Online Protection, or C4COP for short.

Also speaking out against a federal online gambling throughout the year were several groups ranging from the Fraternal Order of Police, to political groups like the Democratic Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the North American Association of State & Provincial Lotteries.

Most of these groups have lined up in opposition to a federal online gambling ban because their states, or member states, have passed online gaming bills.

In Congress, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) continues to be the online poker champion, although Barton’s proposed bill would make online gambling illegal while legalizing online poker.

Here is a look at the other individuals and groups that came out in opposition to Sheldon Adelson’s RAWA in 2014.

April 28, 2014: FreedomWorks Among 10 Groups Opposing RAWA

When it comes to political power on the Republican side of the aisle few groups can match FreedomWorks, and the group, led by former Speaker of the House Dick Armey, has been quite critical of Adelson’s attempted online gambling prohibitions.

In April, FreedomWorks was one of 10 signatories of a letter sent to Congress opposing RAWA.

  • Joe Jansen, Alliance for Freedom
  • Steve Pociask, President, American Consumer Institute
  • Michelle Minton, Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Matt Kibbe, President, FreedomWorks
  • Coley Jackson, President, Freedom Action
  • Carrie Lukas, Managing Director, Independent Women’s Forum
  • Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
  • Tom Giovanetti, President, Institute for Policy Innovation
  • Eli Lehrer, President, R Street Institute
  • David Williams, President, Taxpayer Protection Alliance

More evidence of FreedomWorks opposition to gambling bans can be found here and here, and evidence of their support of online gambling regulation can be found here.

August 22, 2014: Georgia lottery has their say

This summer the Georgia Lottery Corporation ramped up their opposition to a federal online gambling ban. Georgia is one of three states currently selling lottery tickets online, and in a letter sent to a US House attorney, GLC head Debbie Dlugolenski Alford, stated a ban would have negative consequences for the state’s lottery to the tune of $39 million.

Dlugolenski Alford  called online sales:

“Critical to our success and our ability to grow revenues for education…  [They are] Innovative and effective methods of increasing revenues are central to keep up with rising costs of providing education, and the incremental sales growth provided by this channel plays a vital role in that effort,” Dlugolenski Alford wrote in the letter.

October 6, 2014: New Jersey chimes in

When talk of RAWA potentially being brought up the New Jersey Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Assembly Committee  passed a resolution (which had been sitting untouched since June 9th) calling on Congress to, “oppose S.2159 and H.R.4301 which would prohibit states from authorizing and conducting Internet gaming.”

While more of a symbolic measure, the resolution did get its point across as it garnered some public attention.

November 13, 2014: PA lawmaker introduces resolution opposing RAWA

A month after new Jersey’s gesture, Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Sturla introduced a similar measure, a House Resolution calling on Congress to vote against any bill seeking to ban online gambling at the federal level.

November 16, 2014: Ron Paul’s blistering editorial

As the Lame Duck session neared, one of the biggest names in politics, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, decided to go on the offensive against RAWA, penning a blistering editorial on his Ron Paul Insitute website.

Paul called RAWA crony capitalism at its worst and made a number of accusations regarding the motives of Adelson and the people perceived to be doing his bidding in Congress:

“It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson… is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.”

“Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor… Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists! … passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals. Thus, it is those who support outlawing online gambling who may be aiding criminals and terrorists.”

November 20, 2014: 12 Conservative/Libertarian groups join the fray

On November 20th a coalition of 12 conservative groups including the ultra-powerful Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to the leadership of Congress voicing their “strong concerns” over the Restoration of America’s Wire Act bills.

  • Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform
  • Larry Hart, Director of Government Relations, American Conservative Union
  • Steve Pociask, President American Consumer Institute
  • John Tate, President Campaign for Liberty
  • Lawson Bader, President, Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
  • Gary Johnson, Honorary Chairman, Our America Initiative
  • David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
  • Katie McAuliffe, , Executive Director, Digital Liberty
  • Jeff Mazzella, President, Center for Individual Freedom
  • Tom Giovanetti, President, Institute for Policy Innovation
  • Andrew F. Quinlan, President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

With the addition of Norquist to the rolls of RAWA opponents many felt the bill had little chance to pass.

December 9, 2014: Two more politicians publicly oppose online gambling ban

While the $1.1 trillion CRomnibus federal spending bill was being debated, Representatives Jared Polis (R-CO) and Steve Cohen (R-TN) sent a signed letter to the leaders on the appropriations committees in both the House and the senate, urging them to keep RAWA out of the bill.

Neither representative is known for taking a vocal stance on this issue before, so it will be interesting to see if they continue to fight for online gambling (or at least oppose any calls for a ban) in 2015.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including OnlinePokerReport.com, PlayNJ.com, USPoker.com, and USA Today.

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