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Federal Attack on Sites Like FanDuel and DraftKings Threatens Tenth Amendment

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You may be one of millions who have enjoyed fantasy sports leagues online such as FanDuel and DraftKings. But your right to participate in these sites online might be in danger soon if opposition to them gets their way. There is a growing chorus, in the media and among some politicians close to established gambling interests, for the federal government to regulate, or even put these sites out of business.  Such a move would violate federalism, open the door to more regulation of the Internet and be a glaring example of cronyism.

Major newspapers such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe have been trumpeting the call for federal regulation. The notion that FanDuel and DraftKings are a variation of gambling is echoed by other media outlets as well as some in the brick and mortar gambling industry, who see participation in such fantasy sports leagues online as a threat to their business.

Jim Murren, the CEO of MGM, that operates casinos in Las Vegas, argues that web sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are forms of online gambling. Murren stated recently, “…who in the world thinks that FanDuel or DraftKings – who’s going to tell me that’s not gambling? Of course it’s gambling. But people are doing it, they are doing it all over the place. It’s not regulated.”

Murren is not the only supporter of regulating online gambling among those who operates casinos in Las Vegas. Sheldon Adelson, who has donated or helped raise funds in the past for both Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), strongly supports the bill and says society should be protected against online gambling. That legislation, titled The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), is sponsored by Graham and Rubio in the Senate as well as Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and several other cosponsors in the House. RAWA would overturn state level laws legalizing and regiulating such activites.

Depending on the exact language of the bill, and possible count rulings on its interpretation, RAWA could lead to the banning of citizens in all states to participate in fantasy sports leagues online, such as via sites like FanDuel and DraftKings. If these sites are defined by legislation or court ruling as gambling, they are likely to be shut down by federal legislation like RAWA.

Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana or Washington currently prohibit citizens from participating in sites like FanDuel and DraftKings. Currently, the legality of such sites is decided by the representatives of the people, the states legislatures, in the individual states. But if federal legislation like RAWA is enacted and signed into law, the Tenth Amendment authority of states to decide these issues will be violated and replaced by the imposition of a federal, one-size fits all, big government answer to these issues.

Putting aside the obvious hypocrisy of the Las Vegas casino industry, and their crony capitalist friends among the politicians in Washington who would use the force of the federal government to support their financial interests, it is clear that legislating these issues federally violates the rights of the people and the states, respectively, to decide their own regulating of online gambling at the state level. While some conservatives might feel inclined to vote for legislation like RAWA out of an impulse to regulate or ban online gambling, they should recognize that freedom is upheld by allowing the states, under our traditions of limited government and the Tenth Amendment, to decide gambling policy at the state level.

The Tenth Amendment clearly states that those power not enumerated to the federal government shall be decided by the states and people respectively. Whether one condones legalized gambling, or the participation in fantasy sports leagues online such as FanDuel and DraftKings, the notion that the federal government should abstain from regulating them, and recognize state authority in these areas, should trump the financial interests of the few in the Las Vegas gambling industry. The people, and the states, respectively should decide these issues, not politicians in Washington D.C.


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