Rep. Jason Chaffetz is a United States congressman of Utah’s 3rd congressional district. He holds strong conservative values and is attempting to have online casinos barred on a federal level in the USA.
Born in California on March 26, 1967, Jason Chaffetz was raised in Arizona and Colorado. He attended Bringham Young University on a football scholarship and graduated from the university with a B.A. in communications. During his college years, Chaffetz identified as a Democrat. He had family ties to Democrat Michael Dukakis and even served in Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign.
Chaffetz’s political views began drifting to the right, and by the 90s he began identifying as a Republican. His political beliefs are not the only thing that Chaffetz shifted – he also converted to Mormonism after being raised Jewish.
In 2008 Chaffetz won Utah’s 3rd congressional district and has held the seat ever since. In 2014 he became the chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee.
In 2014 Chaffetz, along with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, began a mission to have online gambling banned in the United States. “To have gaming on every smartphone in the country, I just think it’s a bad idea,” says Chaffetz.
The proposed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) sets out to reverse the Department of Justice’s 2011 legal interpretation that the 1961 Wire Act only applies to sports betting. Prior to the Department of Justice ruling the Wire Act was considered to outlaw any form of online wagering. It was this Department of Justice decision which gave individual states the freedom to decide whether their citizens could enjoy online poker and other casino games.
Chaffetz argues that “the DOJ opened the door for a massive change in policy without significant public input.” Chaffetz is determined to restore the Wire Act’s original interpretation.
RAWA is backed by Las Vegas Sands Casino Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. It is alleged that Adelson’s lobbyists and anti-online gambling organization, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, literally wrote the bill themselves. Adelson also happens to be a big-time Republican super-donor as well as the one person who stands to benefit the most by a federal ban of online gambling. A ban on internet poker and other casino games would single-handedly wipe out his brick-and-mortar Las Vegas casinos’ competition.
Adelson refers to online gambling as a “societal train wreck waiting to happen.” His argument against online gaming is that online poker and other casino games have the potential to be dangerously addictive, unlike gambling in one of his many brick-and-mortar casinos.
In 2014 RAWA was introduced to Congress but gained little support. Now, in 2015 Chaffetz and Adelson are back and working on passing an updated version of RAWA that has exceptions built in for online daily fantasy sports betting, online horse betting, as well as close-circuit online betting such as systems in place in Adelson’s casinos.
Currently, New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware allow their citizens the option to wager online and Chaffetz’s controversial Restoration of America’s Wire Act threatens to remove online gambling regulation from state jurisdiction and force these states to close down internet gambling. Casinos in New Jersey alone would stand to lose between $10 and $45 million per year of online revenue if RAWA passes.
In October 2015 Chaffetz announced that he was in the running for John Boehner’s seat as Speaker of the House. Chaffetz as Speaker of the House would be terrible for the future of online poker and online gaming.
Fortunately, days after announcing his interest in the seat he pulled out of the race, tweeting “I am out and supporting @RepPaulRyan for Speaker. Right person at the right time.” -@jasoninthehouse
Still, Jason Chaffetz is a powerful player in American politics and is determined to wage an Adelson-sponsored war against online poker and online casinos.