Ron Paul has attacked supporters of an online gambling ban proposed by Las Vegas Sands CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson, calling it “crony capitalism.”
Paul, a former Republican Representative from Texas who has long been known for his libertarian stances, shared his views in an op-ed piece written for the Ron Paul Institute.
“Despite public opposition to cronyism, politicians still seek to use the legislative process to help special interests,” Paul wrote in his weekly column.
“For example, Congress may soon vote on legislation outlawing Internet gambling. It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner, Sheldon Adelson.”
Bill Would Ban Online Gambling at Federal Level
Paul is referring to the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill that would create a federal ban on Internet poker and casino games. The legislation would change the wording of the Wire Act to make it clearly ban these forms of online gambling; the current Wire Act was reinterpreted in 2011 by the Department of Justice, which said it only applied to sports betting and not other forms of remote gaming.
RAWA was first introduced to Congress in March by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). It is widely believed that Adelson and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling are behind the legislation.
Paul said that while those in favor of such a ban give many reasons to support such a move, criminalizing online gambling won’t make it go away.
“Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor,” Paul wrote. “Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists! But criminalizing online casinos will not eliminate the demand for online casinos. Instead, passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals.”
Ron Paul Attacks States’ Rights Argument for Ban
Ron Paul also took aim at those who claim that banning online poker would somehow protect states’ rights.
“A federal online gambling ban would overturn laws in three states that allow online gambling,” wrote Paul. “It would also end the ongoing debate over legalizing online gambling in many other states. Yet some have claimed that Congress must pass this law in order to protect states rights!”
“Arguing that ‘states rights’ justifies creating new federal crimes turns the Tenth Amendment, which was intended to limit federal power, on its head,” he continued.
Paul went on to argue that while some may have legitimate moral issues with gambling, it doesn’t make sense for only online gambling to face their wrath.
“The proposed legislation is not at all about the morality of gambling,” Paul wrote. “It is about whether Americans who do gamble should have the choice to do so online, or be forced to visit brick-and-mortar casinos.”
Paul also expressed concerns that such a ban could increase Internet surveillance by the government, all because Sheldon Adelson is an influential Republican donor.
While Adelson’s agenda may get a look next year when the new Congress comes into session, RAWA is unlikely to see much movement during the lame duck period. While it has been speculated that the House Judiciary Committee might hold a hearing on the bill before the end of the year, recent reports have said that there are no current plans to do so.