In a frightening report that lit up the headlines in recent weeks, it appeared that anti-online gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson was attempting to bully Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid into attaching RAWA to the US government’s omnibus spending bill. Due tomorrow, congress finished up early, finalizing the bill and publishing its contents yesterday. To the relief of online poker players around the country, Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act appeared nowhere in the profuse text.
All 1,603 pages of the copious appropriations bill were released on Tuesday, at which time Reid said that the year’s longstanding debate over legal online gambling in the US would finally quiet down. Of course, that will only last for the next few weeks until the new year brings a fresh campaign from all sides of the argument. But for online poker players, Reid’s decision to exclude RAWA was a huge win.
According to reports, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has spent the last year throwing his money at anyone who would support his cause to initiate a blanket ban of most forms of online gambling across the nation, was using his wealth in a new way. Instead of offering to fund Reid’s future campaigns – a move that would have shocked everyone since Harry Reid is a democratic advocate of online poker in his home state of Nevada – Adelson offered not to support Reid’s opponents.
Harry Reid will only hold the title of Senate Majority Leader until the year is out, after which Republican Mitch McConnell will fill his shoes. That leaves Reid open to run for re-election in the Nevada Senate in 2016. Reports indicated that Sheldon Adelson attempted to coerce Reid into pinning RAWA to the spending bill in exchange for his lack of monetary participation in that that election race.
Reid quieted the concerns of the online poker community yesterday when he stated that, “If we can’t get [RAWA] into the omnibus, it won’t be in anything.” The spending bill is the last must-pass measure of the year’s lame duck session. The budget, which comes out to $1.1 trillion, will provide funds for the majority of the government’s programs up to September of 2015.
The Senate Majority Leader has had his hands full this year, with online gambling being virtually non-existent from his list of discussion topics. The last internet gaming related support from Reid came in a piece of legislation designed to prohibit most online gambling activities in the US, while carving out a regulated market for online poker only. Much like the current iGaming market in Nevada, where poker is the only regulated activity for the state’s online gamblers, Reid’s opinion has consistently favored poker as a game of skill, not chance.
While the rumors have been unfounded that Harry Reid would incorporate RAWA into the omnibus bill as a kind of, ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ for Adelson, the Senate leader has admitted an unlikely friendship between the two. Despite having dramatically opposing views on politics, both Reid and Adelson enjoy an amicable relationship, possibly built upon Adelson’s position as CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp and Reid’s heavy involvement in the legislative side of Nevada’s gambling industry over the years.