In a recent interview on CNBC, Rep. Jason Chaffetz – who is sponsoring the Sheldon Adelson-backed federal online gambling ban in the House – characterized the DoJ’s interpretation of the Wire Act in a way that suggested the Congressman either doesn’t understand the facts or is determined to distort them.
The statement comes at around 3:00 in the segment. Chaffetz claims that “what the Obama administration is doing is going to force gambling into the state of Utah.”
The DoJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act (which you can read here) does nothing of the sort.
And Chaffetz does not bother to explain why the force-fed expansion of online gambling that he so vigorously asserts is a natural by-product of the DoJ’s opinion has failed to take place in the nearly three years since the DoJ updated its interpretation of the Wire Act.
It’s a strange gap in knowledge given that the bill Chaffetz is sponsoring – The Restoration of America’s Wire Act – is designed to undo the DoJ’s interpretation. Seems helpful to know the law before you overthrow it.
A few seconds later, Chaffetz makes the confusing assertion that the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) is a “states’ rights” bill.
“This is a states’ rights issue,” Chaffetz says, “and that’s why Restoring America’s Wire Act is the right legislation.”
As introduced, RAWA would immediately shutter state-regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware along with online lottery sales in states like Illinois. RAWA would also unilaterally freeze ongoing legislative efforts in states like Pennsylvania and California.
That apparent contradiction – a states’ rights bill that involves the federal government swooping in and usurping the will of the state lawmakers – was quickly raised by Chaffetz’s counterpart in the debate, C4Cop Executive Director Tom Russell, but Chaffetz declined to respond.