Schatz: Citizens Against Government Waste 'key votes' its opposition to online gambling ban

On the eve of the “Cromnibus Budget Deal of 2014, the leading federal spending watchdog stepped up to denounce legislation that would outlaw online gambling in a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner (R.-Ohio) and the three other top congressional leaders.


“On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, I am writing to urge you to reject any consideration of S. 2159, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act or its companion House bill, H.R. 4301 during the lame-duck session of Congress, wrote Thomas A. Schatz, the president of the watchdog founded by J. Peter Grace to continue the work of the Grace Commission, the panel charged by President Ronald W. Reagan to find ways to cut the federal budget.

Shatz put law makers on notice that CCAGW is tracking RAWA legislation as a key vote that will be reflected in its scorecard ratings.

The Wire Act was enacted in 1961 to constrain interstate or foreign commerce relating to bets or wagers on sporting events over the telephone. Subsequent court cases and Department of Justice enforcement of the Wire Act have limited its coverage to only sports betting,” Schatz said. “The misleadingly-named RAWA would therefore amend, not restore, the Wire Act, since it would expand its coverage to all forms of gambling or betting, including Internet gambling.”

The CCAGW letter comes at Capitol Hill conservatives and libertarians are scrambling against Boehner’s alliance with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) – and the product of that union: the cromnibus bill.


A cromnibus bill is a blend of an omnibus budget bill and a continuing resolution. The omnibus bill acts as an ad hoc long term budget that has not gone through the regular order process of individual appropriation bills that have been approved by committees and then passed on the House and Senate floors. A continuing resolution is a short-term bill that usually maintains current rates of spending and whose real purpose is to postpone a fight to another day.

Boehner-Pelosi cromnibus seeks to fund for the rest of fiscal year 2015, which began Oct. 1, most part of the government, where there is consensus between GOP leaders and Democrats and funding that those areas of contention with a short-term truce that will get Congress passed the Christmas recess and into the new congressional session, possibly to the end around President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

The fear among Capitol Hill conservatives and libertarians is that the cromnibus bill with be loaded up with goodies that would only pass both chambers in the lame duck session with Democrats still in control of the Senate.

Banning online gambling is one of those goodies, as it is the personal request from Sheldon Adelson, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the $14 billion-a-year casio comglomerate.

Adelson has contributed more than $100 million to Republican candidates, committees and causes, including at least three Republican candidates for president in 2012.


Conservatives and libertarians balk at the blatant quid pro quid of Adelson’s big ask, in addition to concerns the bill’s interference in intra-state commerce and about the federal government getting involved what they see as a lifestyle choice.

Schatzalso mentioned the federalism concerns in his letter, specifically how it contradicts the 10th Amendment.

He is less direct on the subject of Adelson and the big ask: “It is our understanding that pressure to consider this legislation is restricted to either a single company or individual, or a few companies or individuals.”

Momentum for and against RAWA is one of Capitol Hills the most vicious tug-a-wars nobody knows about. The last funding bill, a continuing resolution that got Congress through the election, expires Dec. 11—just in time for the NFL Playoffs—the true high holidays for Americans gambling online.

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