Online Gaming: States’ Rights vs. Special Interests

State efforts to legalize online gaming continue, as do Republican super donor Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to stop it.

The most recent battleground was Pennsylvania, where Gov. Tom Wolf signed bipartisan legislation to legalize online gaming late last month. Adelson, through his organization the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, lobbied heavily to kill the measure. It should be noted Adelson owns a brick-and-mortar casino in Pennsylvania. His motives were clear: to protect his own self-interest. Taxpayers are no doubt happy he failed; state coffers are already yielding the benefits from the new revenue stream.


Of course Pennsylvania had every right to choose not to legalize online gaming. The same can be said for every state. What’s right for one state may not be right for another. But Adelson’s other front in this battle would foreclose on each state’s right to self-determination on this issue. He still wants to ban online gaming at the federal level. As Matthew Boyer writes in the Washington Examiner:

Adelson’s time is not just invested in these localized campaigns. To make matters easier, he is also pushing a federal bill that would override these state laws in one fell swoop.

Adelson has been pushing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, or RAWA, for several years. It is rooted in crony dealmaking and would have a disastrous impact on the Pennsylvania state budget, among others. This summer, Adelson hired a longtime friend of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to lobby the Justice Department on this issue.

Adelson can be persuasive. Despite recent polls showing Keystone Staters support legal online gaming, Republican Members of Congress from Pennsylvania like Charlie Dent, Michael Fitzpatrick (retired), and his brother Brian Fitzpatrick have aggressively sought to ban it in Washington. (Adelson, of course, has his own polls). These are Republicans who should be supporting state sovereignty, not special interests.



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