If Attorney General Jeff Sessions goes ahead with a ban on Internet gambling, he could be in for a world of hurt. Never mind the states with online casinos. He’d be messing with the states that have online lotteries, a huge revenue source they won’t forego easily. This latter group includes Minnesota, Georgia, New York and Illinois … red and blue states alike. The Conservative Political Action Conference was polled on the issue and 91% of attendees came down against the ban, Sheldon Adelson‘s pet project. Said Institute for Liberty President Andrew Langer, “Conservatives see RAWA [Adelson-pushed legislation] for what it is — one of the worst forms of crony capitalism in Congress today. [Restoring America’s Wire Act] is nothing short of an effort by one of the richest men in the world to ban a form of competition for his brick and mortar casino empire—and everyone knows it. Worse yet, he is even willing to trample on the Constitution to do it.”
Unfortunately for Adelson, not only are his fellow conservatives wise to his attempt to abrogate the Tenth Amendment, they see dangers to the Second Amendment lurking in his crusade. Langer wrote, RAWA “would open the door [to] legislation sought by gun control advocates to bar the sale of online ammunition.” Of the Sessions effort, he added, The federal government should not trample on states’ rights, and certainly not to satisfy the parochial whims of one of the GOP’s largest donors.”
Former Congressman Lynn Westmoreland fired up his computer to write an op-ed scorching Adelson. “RAWA seeks to change that historic structure of the states governing themselves by having the federal government dictate gambling laws for everyone, That shift furthers the idea of a strong central government requiring uniformity in all states instead of recognizing the uniqueness of each individual state’s laws,” typed Westmoreland.
If the main problem were RAWA we needn’t break a sweat: It is widely scorned on Capitol Hill. However, if Sessions reverses Eric Holder‘s interpretation of the Wire Act then the fox is well and truly within the hen house. Expect plentiful lawsuits from all of the states mentioned and more, as well as amicus briefs from the likes of CPAC. We will also know the price of buying a government: That $5 million that Adelson pumped into Donald Trump‘s inauguration is already hard at work.
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, potential gambling on the Internet could be smothered in the crib by government greed. State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R) is proposing a 54% tax rate. Even if blended with the state’s 16% table-game rate, it ought to be high enough to scare i-gaming operators away from the Keystone State.
* Has Genting Group come to this? Running a bus stop? OK, it’s a lot better than it looks. The Malaysian gaming giant won permission from the Miami-Dade County Commission to upgrade the county bus station in return for building a 36-story hotel above it. The transaction will cost Genting $10 million — pocket change. The station is strategically sited: right next to 30 waterfront acres on which Resorts World Miami would have been built had the Florida Legislature ever been able to pull the trigger on resort casinos.
With $421 million already invested (sunk?) into Miami-Dade County real estate, Genting desperately needs something to happen to make its investment pay off. Judging from the current impasse in Tallahassee, Getting is going to have to possess its soul in patience.
* Penn National Gaming will get a day in court it doesn’t want, after a judge ruled that the Belle of Sioux City was operating unlawfully during the 16 months it did business without the state-mandated nonprofit partner. This is a victory for Missouri River Historical Development, which is suing to recover the 3% slice of the casino revenues on which it says Penn defaulted. Penn, wrote District Judge Linda Reade “cannot escape its financial obligations by operating outside the law.” If Penn loses at trial, it’s a $1.9 million windfall for MRHD. We’ll have to wait a while for resolution to this soap opera, as the opening gavel won’t fall on the trial phase until June 11 of next year.