Regardless of what one thinks about former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, poker fans have got to appreciate the support he has given online poker over the years. And though he is no longer in the U.S. House of Representatives, Paul is still making his feelings known about the subject, calling out Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent in an op-ed for PennLive.com for attempting to sneak an online gambling ban through without so much of a debate.
In June, it was reported that Dent was going to attempt to add language to the House Appropriations Bill – a gigantic bill which authorizes government funds each year – that would nullify the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) clarification of the Wire Act from back in December 2011.
The Wire Act, originally passed in 1961, explicitly made sports betting over telephone lines illegal as a way to try to slow down organized crime. As online gambling and poker rose to prominence, the Department of Justice interpreted the Wire Act to include all online gambling, not just sports betting.
In December 2011, though, the OLC clarified the Wire Act, saying that it did only ban internet sports betting. Because of this correct re-interpretation, Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey have legalized and regulated online gambling and a number of states, including Dent’s Pennsylvania, are working on the same thing.
This got Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and one of the country’s biggest Republican political donors, riled up and since then, he has tried to push his Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) through Congress, a bill which essentially says, “Yeah, that OLC memo doesn’t count. The Wire Act bans all online gambling.”
He has used Republican Senators and Representatives who want to be in his good graces to do his bidding, one of the latest of which seems to be Dent.
Dent actually tried this last year, but his colleagues found out about it before he could submit his amendment to the Appropriations Bill and told him it wasn’t going to happen. He still submitted it to save face before withdrawing it. Here is how it read.
And now, as Dent gets set to insert RAWA-language into another Appropriations Bill, Ron Paul is spitting fire. In his op-ed, Paul says that Dent’s “….proposed ban on online gambling violates the principles of federalism and threatens the constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of whether they gamble online.”
He goes on to outline how arguments against online gambling are mostly bullshit scare tactics and that “Criminalizing online gaming could also set a dangerous precedent that could be used to attack other rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.”
Paul adds that the sheer fact that RAWA supporters like Dent are trying to sneak this through is evidence that they know they are full of shit. Otherwise, they would let it be debated.
“Sneaking this bill onto the Appropriations bill is exactly the type of political ‘trick play’ that has made so many Americans disgusted with Congress,” Paul writes. “This is especially so given that it is an open secret that much of the support for this bill comes from one billionaire caisson owner who is also one of the country’s largest political donors. No wonder a federal ban on online gaming is opposed by political figures from across the political spectrum, from libertarians like myself to progressives like Barney Frank.”
Featured photo credit: ronpaulinstitute.org