According to a brief report by TheHill.com, major players on both sides of the online gambling battle in the United States have acquired more troops. Both Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) and Amaya Services Ltd., a division of PokerStars parent Amaya, have hired new lobbyists.
The CSIG, funded by Las Vegas Sands CEO and billionaire conservative political puppeteer Sheldon Adelson, has retained the services of The Keelen Group, a lobbying firm based out of Washington, D.C. Matt Keelen is the Founder and President of the company; he is joined by executives Frank McCarthy and Stephen Borg.
As one might expect, considering everyone and every company that has worked with CSIG also has some sort of relationship with the Las Vegas Sands Corp., one of The Keelen Group’s biggest clients is Sands. A number of organizations and trade associations are listed as clients on Keelen’s site, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the National Education Association, and the Southwest Airlines’ Pilots Association.
Amaya, according to TheHill, has hired CSA Strategies and lobbyist Alejandro Urrea to work on internet gambling licensing issues. According to OpenSecrets.org, the Poker Players Alliance was one of CSA’s highest billed clients in 2015; the PPA paid $80,000 to CSA Strategies last year, so one would think that Urrea has some idea of what needs to be done for Amaya.
While it is fairly apparent what Amaya is trying to accomplish with its new lobbying firm, it is not known exactly what the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is up to. Adelson and the CSIG were the driving forces behind the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a federal bill that aimed to make online gambling illegal in the United States. The Wire Act was enacted in 1961to help curtail organized crime by making sports betting over communications wires illegal. With the rise of internet gaming, the Department of Justice widened its interpretation of the Wire Act to apply to all forms of online gambling. At the end of 2011, however, the DoJ clarified its stance on the Wire Act, saying that it did, in fact, only apply to sports gambling.
That incensed anti-online gambling people like Adelson, who sees internet gaming as a threat to his brick-and-mortar empire. As such, Adelson got RAWA introduced into both the House and Senate, though the name is misleading, as the 2011 DoJ clarification was really the “restoration” of the Wire Act. Adelson’s bill would just reset it to the incorrect interpretation that he prefers.
Fortunately, RAWA is basically dead, as it hasn’t received much of any support on Capitol Hill. In March, Gambling Compliance reported that Adelson and CSIG were shifting their focus away from chasing RAWA and towards fighting for a federal prohibition of illegal, offshore online gambling. Thus, one might assume that The Keelen Group has been hired to work on this project, rather than trying to jumpstart RAWA. It is entirely possible that Adelson has had a change of heart, though, and wants to try his luck with RAWA again, so this should be an interesting development to watch.
Source: Poker News Daily