State AG Support For RAWA Drops Dramatically

Who Wants RAWA? Support Plummets Among State Attorneys General

Water level
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Support among state attorneys general for the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) appears to be diminishing, as only eight state AGs have signed a recently-circulated letter endorsing RAWA, down from sixteen who signed a similar missive in 2014.

2015 effort produces single-digit support

With a RAWA-related hearing scheduled to take place in Congress December 9th, support for the online gambling prohibition has dwindled to just eight names (Repeat signatories and/or states from 2014 in bold):

  1. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills
  2. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
  3. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster
  4. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson
  5. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt*
  6. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt
  7. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson
  8. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley

*Laxalt subsequently qualified his support of RAWA, saying that:

[…] while I agree with the spirit of RAW A- recognizing the quasi-legislative impact of the 2011 Opinion and the resulting need for Congress to review and opine on the reach and application of the Wire Act- I also believe that it is incumbent upon the policymakers of Congress to protect current and future technological innovation of licensed and regulated gaming-related devices, table games, accounting, financial, and player reward systems, as well as other systems and networks central to the success of land-based casino resorts, from any prohibition that may result from overly broad amendment language to the Wire Act of 1961

2014 effort fell well short

Last year a similar letter calling for Congress to pass RAWA garnered 15 (16 if you count the Attorney General of Guam) signatures from state attorneys general.

  1. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster
  2. Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning
  3. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson
  4. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
  5. Florida Attorney General Pamela Jo Bondi
  6. Hawaii Attorney General David Louie
  7. Kansas Attorney General Dereck Schmidt
  8. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
  9. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox
  10. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem
  11. South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley
  12. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
  13. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
  14. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell
  15. Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael
  16. Guam Attorney General Lenny Rapadas

Because the letter failed to exceed the required 36 signatures, the National Association of Attorneys General didn’t recognize the letter as a “Statement of Policy,” and didn’t back the measure as they had done in 2007.

Root of current effort garnered majority support in 2007

In December of 2007, a letter signed by 43 state attorneys general was sent to congressional leadership by the National Association of Attorneys General, expressing their “grave concerns” about a piece of legislation introduced by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) that would undo the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and legalize and regulate online gambling at the federal level.

After several years of trying, Frank’s bill never even made it to the House floor for a vote, but a 2011 DoJ opinion rendered the need for federal legislation relatively moot, and sparked a whole new letter writing campaign.

The online gambling landscape has changed quite a bit since the first AG letter surfaced in 2007. Thanks to a 2011 opinion by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel which stated that the 1961 Wire Act only applied to sports betting, states are now capable of legalizing and regulating online gambling, and successfully-regulated markets have emerged in New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware.

Upshot

State level support for a federal ban on regulated online gambling has dropped from 86% (43 out of 50) in 2007 to 30% in 2014 to just 16% (eight out of 50) in 2015.

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Steve Ruddock
- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.