US Online Gambling Opponents Plot Intrastate Moratorium

Washington politicians are reportedly hatching a plan to impose a moratorium on further expansion of intrastate online gambling.

GamblingCompliance scribe Chris Krafcik recently reported that US federal politicians were discussing plans to introduce legislation that would call for a study of the pros and cons of online gambling. While this study was being conducted, legislators would seek a moratorium on any states joining Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey in passing intrastate online gambling legislation.

The plan is reportedly seen as a more viable alternative to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the Sheldon Adelson-backed legislation that would make most forms of online gambling illegal in all 50 states. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently introduced a Senate version of RAWA, following a similar move in the House of Representatives this February by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

RAWA has become something of a hot potato for Washington pols, particularly Republicans, given that the bill represents an explicit trampling of the principles of ‘states rights’ that the GOP traditionally views as sacrosanct. The bill has also been widely derided as a blatant ‘get’ for Adelson, one of the GOP’s biggest financial backers. State lotteries, other casino operators and civil libertarians have all expressed strident opposition to RAWA’s passage.

But a moratorium would accomplish much of RAWA’s intent by injecting formaldehyde into the existing US iGaming landscape for years to come. Politicians currently on the fence re RAWA could make a far more palatable argument by claiming that more data was required for them to make an informed choice on this issue and that all they were asking for was time.

Meanwhile, the three existing iGaming states could continue delivering their underwhelming numbers, allowing opponents to claim that these now ‘mature’ markets still weren’t delivering on their early (wildly unrealistic) projections. The effect would be even more pronounced for states that had been considering poker-only online regimes, given that existing intrastate online poker operators have clearly demonstrated that liquidity sharing compacts with other states are required to make these operations viable.