From the Rumor Mill: Sheldon Adelson may be considering supporting a new party

It’s well known that Sheldon Adelson has made it his mandate to pass the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) which would change the 2011 Dpartment of Justice (DoJ) opinion that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, thereby making all forms of online gambling illegal. Adelson has poured a ton of money into

It’s well known that Sheldon Adelson has made it his mandate to pass the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) which would change the 2011 Dpartment of Justice (DoJ) opinion that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting, thereby making all forms of online gambling illegal. Adelson has poured a ton of money into the effort including advertising, setting up the website stopinternetgambling.com and he has enlisted the help of several party members including Senators Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio and Representative Jason Chaffetz to ensure it happens.

Adelson also contributed tens of millions on the campaigns of key GOP Senators and Congressmen and while he was publicly frustrated and disgusted with Donald Trump during the election for his sexist and racist comments, he nevertheless gave almost $25 million to get Trump elected, once it became clear that Trump would be the official party nominee and they were in the home stretch. While that money technically had no strings attached, everyone knows that nothing is free. So, when Trump won the election and when the GOP rolled to huge wins in both houses Adelson presumably met with the people who owed him a favor and assumed that RAWA would be pushed to the forefront of the Trump agenda and that online gambling would be illegal in a short period.

Unfortunately for Adelson that hasn’t been the case.

The majority of GOP who Adelson was not funding are balking at the idea of supporting RAWA because they realize it usurps the constitution – i.e. trying to pass a federal law to ban online gambling goes against the 10th amendment – and the majority of their constituency don’t want online gambling banned. Plus, many GOP members, including those whose victories he helped fund, are concerned that pushing RAWA would be seen as the party politics that it is, at a time when Trump promised to drain the swamp.

One positive for Adelson is that Trump’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated he was surprised to find out about the DoJ opinion and would take a close look at it when he was being screened, but by all accounts, now that he is the Attorney General, it’s not even on his radar. And more concerning, two meetings were held between Trump and Adelson to discuss the Israel situation and online gambling and a source close to the situation told me that the discussion about online gambling was not satisfactory to Adelson. The source told me that Trump indicated to Adelson that he doesn’t have the same reservations about online gambling that Adelson does and he isn’t prepared to go against states rights on an issue that isn’t really important to him. The source told me that Trump said that if a fully ratified version of RAWA is put on Trump’s desk, he would sign it, but Trump was not going to help lobby for it and he would urge GOP members to oppose it, if they want his opinion.

For those reasons, it appears Adelson is now looking at other options. It has been well publicized that Adelson has thrown his support behind a new bill that would make it illegal for credit card companies and banks to authorize transactions for online gambling (presumably including companies that are currently operating legally such as Harrah’s in New Jersey) but Adelson is also presumably exploring the possibility of setting up an offshoot of the GOP (like the Tea Party) whose sole purpose would be to support his objectives. According to the rumors, Adelson would target Republicans who are finding it harder to be a part of Trump’s GOP and would be willing to buck the trend and possibly even branch out on their own. They wouldn’t necessarily leave the GOP but rather would have their own set of initiatives and would introduce legislation aimed at criminalizing online gambling, and elicit the support from other GOP members to force Trump’s hand. And there have been some suggestions that a group of GOP are even willing to leave the GOP, become independent and set up a splinter party of the GOP with far more conservative policies than Trump has around social issues such as gambling, gay marriage, transgender bathroom rights and abortion.

There are no definitive candidates that Adelson is targeting although Jason Chaffetz is one name that is being bandied about over and over as he continues to be flabbergasted with decisions made by the Trump administration.

It will be interesting to see if these rumors do indeed turn out to be true, but one thing is certain – Adelson wants RAWA addressed now and it doesn’t appear that will be happening.

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out more from Hartley’s RUMOR MILL!

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