Congress Leaves Online Gaming Ban Out of Spending Bill

4 min read

Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson
Despite a heavy push from Sheldon Adelson, Congress has decided not to include any anti-online gambling ban language in its upcoming spending bill.

Congress has made the decision to not include a ban on legalized online gambling in its spending bill.

The online gambling ban news is likely to come as quite the blow to Las Vegas Sands CEO and billionaire Sheldon Adelson who lobbied Congress to reinstate bills making online gambling illegal.

Instead the spending bill included no language regarding online gambling policy, which some have declared a small victory.

Passing on an Online Ban

The omnibus spending bill is a must-pass measure implementing a $1.1 trillion budget meant to keep government departments and public services up and running.

The bill covers these operations through September of next year. Included in the spending bill are several additional policy provisions catering to individual lawmakers or special interests that fought to have them included.

Other issues addressed in the spending bill are how the government will handle pensions, transportation, environmental concerns and more.

A widespread ban on online gambling has been a hotly debated topic for years. Both sides of the argument have pleaded their cases but as the bill came closer to being passed, the House declined to become involved in the battle.

Adelson hoped to have the spending bill include provisions reinstating previous federal laws that banned online gambling.

These specific laws include the Department of Justice’s December 2011 ruling that the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only applied to online sports betting rather than all forms of online gambling.

Debate on Hiatus

Days before the final decisions on the spending bill were made, gaming industry sources claimed it wasn’t looking good for Adelson’s push. However, officials emphasized that the final days of the session could still prove unpredictable.

One source told the Las Vegas Review Journal that leaders of the House had no desire to include any policy that could “incite some rebellion by a faction of the party.”

Now with the spending bill going through it seems as if there is no room left in the year to debate online gambling. “If we can’t get it into the omnibus, it won’t be in anything,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in an interview.

This marks the third consecutive Congress that has attempted to form some kind of federal strategy on legalizing only to have it fall short before any consensus could be made.

Officials from Caesars Entertainment, who operate online gaming sites in Nevada and New Jersey, expressed their pleasure that any mention of online gambling bans were absent from the spending bill. “We believe that banning Internet gaming is bad public policy from our perspective,” said Caesars Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jan Jones Blackhurst. “We’re pleased this issue will be discussed openly and not hidden in some omnibus bill.”

Unsteady Alliance

For the time being, Adelson will need to couch his campaign against online gambling. Yet the issue with the spending bill has also sparked speculation that the Democratic Reid has an unlikely alliance with the very conservative Adelson.

Since Adelson’s fight to prevent the spread of online gambling, many companies looking to expand their online market have had to defend their position on the very tough opponent.

Reid has supported legislation that would ban online gambling while still making room to support online poker. Both have claimed they have a friendly relationship despite their political differences. As a major donator to Republicans, Adelson would also be in a position to make life difficult come Reid’s election time.

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