Graham Meets With Adelson In Las Vegas

Will Lindsey Graham’s Las Vegas Trip Trigger RAWA Jackpot For Sheldon Adelson?

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Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) took a Vegas vacation this weekend, flying out for the Spring Leadership Meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), hosted by Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian.

According to Politico, Graham had a chance to speak with Adelson. About what, Graham wouldn’t say.

“I met with Sheldon. The one thing I’ve learned about Sheldon is you tell people what you talked to Sheldon about, that’s not a good thing,” Graham told Politico.

Where’s RAWA?

There’s a reasonable chance the general subject of online gambling – and the specific topic of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) – came up:

Graham introduced RAWA – the Adelson-supported attempt to federally ban state-regulated online gambling – in the Senate in March of 2014 at the same time Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced a companion measure in the House.

But, while Chaffetz wasted little time restarting his RAWA push in 2015 with a reintroduction on February 4, Graham has yet to follow suit on the Senate side.

His spokesman confirmed at the time that Graham did intend to reintroduce RAWA, but provided no target date. His office offered “soon” as a timeline to the Washington Examiner on March 3.

On March 10, Graham offered a near-non sequitur explanation for the continued delay:

On March 27, an article in GamblingCompliance (p/w) suggested that attempts to resolve concerns over RAWA’s impact on state lotteries was responsible for the holdup of Graham’s RAWA reintroduction.

The Senator was mum on the issue in the month that followed, prompting the Las Vegas Sun to report on April 24 that “insiders aren’t sure why [Graham] hasn’t introduced a bill yet.”

Graham: If I can raise the money, I’ll run

Graham was more than willing to talk about another topic in April: money.

In multiple comments, Graham tied his decision on whether or not to run for the GOP presidential nomination to the level of funding he’s able to attract.

“I’ll make that decision in May,” Graham reportedly told Fox News on April 19. “If I can raise the money, I’ll do it.”

As for how much money he’d need, Graham suggested $15mm as a target figure at a Republican event in New Hampshire on April 18.

Adelson – who has contributed to some of Graham’s past campaigns – signaled support for Graham’s Oval Office ambitions in February by co-chairing a fundraiser timed to coincide with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Congressional address.

Graham has now clearly signaled to potential backers how much he’ll need and when he’ll need it by.

How Adelson will respond, and how Graham’s White House hopes will intersect with his reintroduction of RAWA, are questions with answers that will become clearer in the month ahead.

Image: Kai Mörk, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany license.

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