A number of US conservative groups have written to the leaders of the House and Senate calling on them to oppose the Sheldon Adelson-backed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).

The letter dated November 20th is signed by the leadership of 12 conservative groups, including Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), The American Conservative Union, Campaign for Liberty, and the Institute for Policy Innovation.

It states that rather than being “a simple fix to 53 year old Wire Act legislation” as RAWA supporters contend, the legislation is in fact an attempt “to apply federal sports betting regulations to online gambling – even though this legislation was created decades before the invention of the internet”.

“The real intention of this bill is to remove the state’s 10th Amendment authority to regulate online gambling as states see fit within their own borders,” it adds.

The groups argue that states have always led the way in regulating gambling and highlight the fact that a diverse coalition of organisations have come together to oppose the legislation, including the Democratic Governors Association, National Governors Association, and National Conference of State Legislatures.

They also argue that RAWA’s supporters’ claims that the Wire Act provides federal authority to supersede state authority in intrastate gambling matters, “have been conclusively debunked by research from the University of Nevada”. The research shows that “Congress had a very narrow intent for the Wire Act because of the same federalism concerns that exist today”.

“The real intention of this bill is to remove the state’s 10th Amendment authority to regulate online gambling as states see fit within their own borders,” the letter concludes. “We hope you will not allow RAWA to become yet another instance where the federal government expands its encroachment in to the states’ purview. State governments are more than capable of making this decision.”

Introduced in March to the House (HR4301) and Senate (S2159) by Congressman Jason Chaffetz and Senator Lindsey Graham, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act seeks to redefine the Wire Act of 1961 to extend its prohibition of sports betting over communications lines to include all forms of gambling. The legislation is backed by Republican party donor and Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson, who has vowed to spend whatever it takes to outlaw internet gambling.

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