While there was strong bipartisan opposition to the measure, Reps. [mc_name name=’Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001182′ ] (R-SC) and Thomas Massive (R-KY) stood strong for the Tenth Amendment and limited government and against [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ]’s (R-UT) effort to federal ban in-state regulated online gambling. Rep. Chaffetz convened the hearing, titled “A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications,” to generate support for his proposed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) legislation to federal ban online gambling.
Rep. Chaffetz opened the hearing, before the House Oversight Committee where he serves as chairman, making a statement about how RAWA would supposedly restore the previous interpretation of the Wire Act against online gambling that he says was overturned by the interpretation by the Office of Legal Counsel in December of 2011. Chaffetz, who is advancing RAWA on behalf of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, said in-state legalized and regulated gambling in any state will make it impossible to prohibit it in any states, such as his own state of Utah, which has legislated against online gambling in that state.
“I believe the piece of legislation that I introduced, Restoring America’s Wire Act, is a states’ rights bill,” Chaffetz proclaimed about RAWA, which would overturned states laws in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware that have legalized in-state regulated online gambling.
Rep. Thomas Masssie (R-NJ) took the first shot at RAWA, focusing on the argument made by its supporters that since laws against online gambling in one state are difficult to enforce if others states are allowing online gambling, that the same logic could be applied also to restrict Second Amendment rights. If one state’s laws banning the purchase of firearms and ammunition online were difficult to enforce when another state allows such sales online, that only a federal ban of such sales would protect the rights of states that choose to ban them.
“It’s hard to enforce gun control laws in one state, so we have to have a universal ban,” Massie argued would be the basis for extending the logic behind RAWA to legislating federally on gun control issues.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson testified in support of RAWA, stating, “It is not a violation of the Tenth Amendment when Congress has the authority to regulate online gambling under the Commerce Clause,” Wilson told the committee, “removal of the online gambling provision of the Wire Act (by the OLC) has eroded the states ability to prohibit or regulate, however they want, gambling in their states.”
Earlier in the hearing, former Nevada state gaming board member Mark Lipparelli cited the existence of the very technology that allows online gambling sites to identify users and only allow those who are from the states where online gambling is legal and regulated, addressing any concerns about online gambling spreading to states that prohibit it within their borders.
Mulvaney pointed out that states will lose their ability to legalize and regulate in-state online gambling if RAWA is enacted, and asked Wilson, “Isn’t there perhaps another way to prevent kids in South Carolina from accessing legal gambling sites New Jersey, Nevada, or Delaware other than federal regulation?”
Mulvaney also highlighted how the basis for banning internet-based gambling via RAWA could also be used to restrict Second Amendment rights to purchase firearms and ammunition, arguing, “That’s what I”m worried about, that we’re going go through regulation and expand the role of the federal government as opposed to limit it.”
[mc_name name=’Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’H001071′ ] (R-GA), who made it clear he is personally opposed to all forms of gambling, said his personal views are overridden by his strong support for the Tenth Amendment, and made it clear that RAWA must be opposed because it would interfere with state authority to legalize or prohibit or otherwise legislate as each state desires in regard to gambling.
Highlighting the notion that a Congress that would ban online gambling could just as well pass legislation to impose it on all states, including those states that choose to prohibit all forms of gambling, [mc_name name=’Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001297′ ] (R-CO) asked Wilson what he would think of Congress passing a law to force legalized gambling on all states. Wilson conceded he hadn’t given much thought to that issue.
It was clear, by the end of the hearing, Chaffetz had little support among Republicans on the committee for RAWA, and that most of the GOP members were strong supporters of limited government and in opposition to the effort to federal ban online gambling by passing RAWA. While Chaffetz might have been content sell out his principles, and support of limited government, to represent the financial interests of Sheldon Adelson and the owners of brick-and-mortar casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, most of the other Republicans showed strong leadership in standing up for the principles of the Tenth Amendment and the authority of states to determine their laws and regulations on gambling rather than having them imposed by politicians from Washington D.C.