RAWA May Allow Lottery To Sell Online

The Carveouts Continue: Lindsey Graham Signals Willingness To Exempt Online Lottery From RAWA

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Sen. Lindsey Graham – the driving force behind the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in the Senate – appears willing to consider alterations to RAWA that would create an exemption for online lottery sales.

That’s per a report in GamblingCompliance (p/w).

Graham told GamblingCompliance.com that he isn’t seeking to block online lottery sales, and that his office is “talking with” those who believe RAWA would ban such sales to “see if we can find some accommodation.”

Graham’s position clashes with Chaffetz, Aldelson

It’s unclear how Graham’s (apparent) flexibility vis-à-vis online lottery will comport with Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s vision for RAWA in the House.

Chaffetz reportedly recently told state lottery officials to introduce their own bill if they didn’t like RAWA’s approach to online lottery sales.

Graham’s willingness to move online lottery sales into the “approved” column also seems at odds with Sheldon Adelson, who is a driving force behind the push to federally ban regulated online gambling.

In early March, Las Vegas Sands’ Andy Abboud told GamblingCompliance that he didn’t see “any appetite” for a carveout for lotteries that chose to move into online sales “based on their simple interpretation of the Wire Act.

After lottery exemption, RAWA would basically ban only online poker

A lottery carveout would add to the numerous exemptions already found within RAWA:

  • Online fantasy sports wagers, including daily fantasy sports sites.
  • Online horse racing wagers.
  • Charitable gambling.

At that point, RAWA would effectively only ban state-regulated online poker and casino games and (possibly) similar tribal operations. That’s it.

And lottery games are already rapidly converging with slot machines. Have a look at the Michigan Lottery’s online offering for a ready example. So RAWA wouldn’t so much ban online casino as force it to reshape to fit into a lottery mold.

All other forms of online gambling are either not within the purview of federal law or already rendered illegal by existing law.

So what’s left?

The casino games that can’t be readily (or profitably) turned into a lottery experience and state-legalized online poker.

Lottery pushback to RAWA has been significant

With four states already offering online lottery and some dozen others at various points of considering online sales, the lotto lobby has been one of the most vocal opponents of RAWA.

A recent letter from Kentucky Lottery head Arthur Gleason to his state’s Congressional delegation captured the tone and tenor of the broader opposition:

As President & CEO of the Kentucky Lottery Corporation (KLC), I am writing to ask you to oppose the adoption of the proposed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). As Congress contemplates addressing Internet wagering again, I hope you will preserve our state’s right to offer lottery ticket sales over the Internet and protect the existing sales channels used by the KLC. If enacted, RAWA poses a significant threat to both future and existing lottery sales in Kentucky.

Read a synopsis of additional lotto-driven criticism of RAWA here.

Issue of concern even for RAWA supporters

One of the more telling moments during the recent House hearing for RAWA came when Rep. Cedric Richmond – who was a co-sponsor of RAWA in 2014 – forcefully raised the point that RAWA would shut down online lottery sales.

Richmond asked the panel what would happen to the lottery if RAWA passed. Only Parry Aftab offered an answer:

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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