Anti-online gambling lawmaker set to exit congress

News on 10 Sep 2017

The name Charlie Dent will be familiar to our readers following reports earlier this year that this Pennsylvanian member of Congress had plans to add online gambling banning language to a must-pass federal appropriations bill.

Unless he is planning this move as his last hurrah, that possibility now looks increasingly remote following his announcement late last week that he will not seek re-election when his seventh term ends this Congressional session.

Dent will depart in 2018, unmourned by the online gambling industry, so he still has a year in which to achieve his ambition to attach RAWA-style language onto the coat-tails of an unrelated Congressional appropriations measure.

However, any hope of stealth in such a move has now gone – his intentions have been widely and critically publicised and political observers and lobbyists are watching him closely.

After Dent announced his intention to retire in an extensive media release, the Washington DC publication Politico revealed that his decision came just a day after Pennsylvanian state Rep. Justin Simmons said he would challenge him in a primary in order to reinstate conservatism in Congress.

Simmons told Pennsylvania reporters that he “absolutely” thinks Dent decided to retire because of his challenge.

“We wanted to make sure we got a more conservative candidate in the seat, and now we can do that,” he said.

Other reports suggested that Dent’s decision was motivated by frustration at the arguably dysfunctional nature of Congressional politics at present, pointing to one passage of his announcement in which he said:

“I have done my best to make a meaningful, positive impact. As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instil stability, certainty and predictability in Washington. I’ve fought to fulfil the basic functions of Government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default.

“Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”

Dent’s reported intention to derail any further legalisation of online gambling ran counter to moves in his own state’s Legislature to legalise online gambling.

His plan included inserting banning language into unrelated but must-pass appropriations measures, or securing a federal review of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel’s 2011 opinion that the federal 1961 Wire Act applies solely to sports betting.

The OLC’s extensively considered opinion enabled states to consider taking their lottery sales online or pass legislation at state level legalising online gambling, a course so far followed by Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey.

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