United States

Congress Discusses Targeting Unlicensed Poker Sites, RAWA dead in 2014

Congress recently passed a $1.1 trillion “Cromnibus” bill that will map out government funding/spending through next September. This year’s edition of the Cromnibus bill narrowly passed both the House and Senate, despite a number of controversial inclusions such as $479 million for F-35 joint strike fighters that Congress didn’t order and a nullification of voter-backed marijuana legalization in Washington D.C.

But one thing that didn’t make it into the recently passed spending bill was a measure to target unlicensed online poker sites. Going further, this legislation would’ve budgeted money to go after poker sites that continue to operate in the United States post-Black Friday. As of now, the exact language behind the measure hasn’t been made public.

Nevertheless, somebody in Congress views unregulated iPoker rooms as a major threat. This is a pretty small group, with Bovada, Merge, Chico and the Winning network leading the way.  However, one look at PokerScout reveals that these four operations combined attract thousands of players a day. So in some respects it seems like going after these operations is worth the effort.

On the other hand, it could cost far more to chase these operations than it’s worth – unlike when Absolute, Full Tilt, PokerStars and UB Poker were busted on Black Friday. That said, maybe it’s better that this agenda wasn’t added to Cromnibus.

RAWA finally finished in 2014

The biggest long-running iGaming story of the year is Sheldon Adelson’s vendetta against the spread of online poker and casino games across the US. His arguments (addiction, underage gambling) don’t hold much weight when the facts are presented. However, the facts seem to get brushed under the rug when somebody is worth $38 billion.

But despite Adelson’s deep pockets, his money and influence weren’t enough to get the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) attached to the 1,603-page Cromnibus. With the year winding down, this was the last chance for RAWA to pass in 2014.

However, Nevada Senator Harry Reid certainly doesn’t think that this is the last we’ve heard of Adelson’s efforts to ban online gaming across the US. “I think there will be efforts made to look at the Wire Act in a Republican-initiated Congress, yes I do,” Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. While Adelson remains the Republican Party’s biggest donor, it’s going to be a tough sell for him to get RAWA passed in the future as well.