The Convenience Store Lobby Suddenly Trying To Ban Online Gaming

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The “Restoration of America’s Wire Act” (RAWA) would rewrite the decades-old Wire Act to ban online gaming. It would also make a number of states’ online lottery games illegal. In the past, Sheldon Adelson said he was “willing to spend whatever it takes” to pass RAWA. He even dispatched his lobbyist Darryl Nirenberg – then of Patton Boggs – to write the bill.

But  Adelson has since retreated into the shadows of the debate over banning online gaming. One potential reason for his retreat is that Adelson’s casinos were fined for underage gambling. This is a problem for the anti-online gaming crowd because their biggest argument is that online games aren’t secure against underage patrons:

Do six figures in fines for underage gamblers getting into his casino in Pennsylvania show Sheldon Adelson’s hypocrisy or buttress his case against full-blown online gaming?

[. . .]

His enemies have discovered $220,000 in fines at Sands Bethlehem since 2010.

[. . .]

Because Adelson has argued underage gamblers will easily be able to access online gaming sites, his foes have pounced on this information to accuse him of hypocrisy. One casino executive succinctly put it this way: “Glass houses and all.”

So now the National Association of Convenience Stores has taken on the heavy lobbying. According to Gambling Compliance:

Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, lobbyists are engaged in a pitched battle for the hearts and minds of lawmakers who will determine if there is a vote on the proposed ban before Congress takes its annual summer recess in August. Lobbyists for the convenience store industry are aggressively urging members of a House Judiciary subcommittee to vote on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill sponsored by Republican Congressman [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ] of Utah.

Here’s the kicker. Adelson’s lobbyist, Darryl Nirenberg left Patton Boggs and joined Steptoe & Johnson. Steptoe & Johnson is doing the heavily lifting for the National Association of Convenience Stores (“NACS”). But the NACS swears it isn’t fronting for Adelson. Again, according to Gambling Compliance:

Kantor [Douglass Kantor, a Steptoe & Johnson lobbyist for NACS] also scoffed at speculation that NACS has become a surrogate of Las Vegas Sands and its chairman Sheldon Adelson, arguably the most formidable champion of a federal Internet gambling ban. “I can tell you that those comments smack of desperation,” said Kantor, who described them as the equivalent of a “playground taunt.”


We have previously reported on efforts to stop interment gambling here, here and here.

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