In Sheldon Adelson’s vision of a perfect world, we’d all be using boxy Apple computers again with no commercial internet access. But since that’s not the case, the Las Vegas Sands Chairman has renewed his campaign to make online gaming illegal throughout the United States. One of his lackeys, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), reintroduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) this year. And as we’ll discuss below, online poker and casino games aren’t the only activities that Chaffetz hopes to ban.
Social gaming a target
The Utah Representative recently held a press conference to discuss pushing RAWA again. And one of the key comments he made involves social gaming. “If you go look right now, you’ll see they have successfully blurred the lines,” Chaffetz said. “You’ll see in one instance Wizard of Oz characters being used to encourage young kids to play the slots.”
The game in question is almost certainly Zynga’s Wizard of Oz slot, where players don’t bet real money, but rather spend money to increase their fake bankroll and get items within the game. Wizard of Oz slot is part of a growing number of social casino games that take a different approach to ‘gambling.’
Much like Chaffetz says that social gaming has blurred lines, so too has this suggestion that RAWA would take aim at companies like Zynga. After all, most of the games that Zynga makes don’t have a gambling theme. So where does the line end when pursuing social gaming? Moreover, would FarmVille and Mafia Wars both fall under RAWA’s definition of online gaming too?
This attack is little surprise
This isn’t the first time that RAWA proponents have made negative comments about social gaming. When speaking to Newsweek in August 2014, Chaffetz bashed Caesars Entertainment’s Slotomania site, calling it “slots for tots.” Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who’s part of Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has also ripped social casino games.
In past interviews, Adelson admitted that one of his biggest fears with iGaming is that companies like Zynga, Facebook and Google could take over the gambling market. And while this seems light-years away, it explains the inclusion of social gaming under RAWA’s umbrella.