Two Republican senators running for president reintroduced a bill Wednesday that would effectively ban Internet poker and other forms of online gambling—legislation that has long been championed by casino magnate and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
Both Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio joined a handful of Republicans and one Democrat in reviving the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a measure that proponents say would “restore” the proper interpretation of a decades-old federal ban on some gambling operations by expanding it to include Internet gambling.
The four-page bill is nearly the same as a measure introduced last year and closely mirrors a bill offered by House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz this year. The online ban has failed to gain traction in either chamber of Congress, but Adelson—whose net worth tallies in the billions and who has made a name of himself as one of the biggest funders of Republican presidential campaigns—remains an influential and ardent supporter.
Backers of the bill, including Graham and Rubio, say that Adelson’s influence has nothing to do with their support. They argue that the Obama administration acted beyond its bounds in 2011 when it issued a Justice Department memo clarifying its reading of the 1961 Wire Act, which historically has been used to police all forms of gambling. That memo said that interstate gambling across “wire communications” that do not relate to sports betting do not fall within the scope of the act.