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Lame Duck Congress Could Punish Online Competition And Hurt Consumers In The Process

Legislating has oftentimes been described as “sausage-making,” but that is an insult to America’s hard-working butchers and slaughterhouse employees.  Often, policy is dictated by favoritism and fear instead of the interests of the average American. Washington’s consideration of two measures during the upcoming Lame Duck session of Congress are classic examples of everything wrong with the legislative process.

For more than two years, Las Vegas billionaire as well as Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson has conducted a one-man fear-and-smear campaign in a shameless attempt to get Washington to outlaw state-regulated online gambling.

The casino owner does not have any moral objections to gambling, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to his astro turf-funded operation designed to overturn the gambling laws in a half-dozen states. Adelson spouts out saintly rhetoric when he criticizes the bill, but the real reason he is advancing it is so that he can increase more of his personal market share over the gambling industry.

When New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada legalized online gaming, Adelson turned to Washington to legislate the state laws away.  According to the Washington Post, his lobbyist drafted legislation that was soon after introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  At the same time, the casino titan funded a grass-tops organization designed to strike fear in the hearts and minds of the public, providing cover for members of Congress that are carrying his ball.

The “Coalition To Stop  Online Gambling” suddenly sprouted up and argued that Internet gambling makes every smartphone and table a casino. The crony group demanded that Congress pass Tenth Amendment-violating legislation known as RAWA (Restore America’s Wire Act) to impose a federal ban on online gaming.

RAWA, as mentioned, was written by Adelson’s top lobbyist.  What the group fails to mention is that a quick Google search shows that dozens, if not hundreds, of online gambling sites are housed off-shore, and the RAWA bill fails to touch these unregulated sites. Why? Because they don’t pose a domestic danger to Adelson’s casino empire.

Adelson’s bill was subject to at least three congressional hearings and appeared to be dead in the tracks — that is, until he started writing checks again and in late September. The Washington Post reported:

“The day after it became public that billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson gave $20 million to a super PAC with close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), three GOP senators introduced legislation that would effectively ban online gambling — a measure Adelson has long pushed for.”

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