How federalism applies to Internet gaming issue

Sheldon-JabbaBy Steve Sherman
Contributing Writer


Sometimes being the Senior Senator from Iowa is boring. Other times it’s like wielding Thor’s hammer for what is right and good in America! Our beloved Senator Chuck Grassley holds the hammer in his strong hands. He is right in the middle of an issue that pits well-funded special interests in Washington against the interests of the people.

Billionaire casino magnate, and Jabba the Hut impersonator, Sheldon Adelson has dumped millions into a campaign to ban online gaming because it competes with his brick and mortar casinos. Essentially, he’s using the government to take out competition. The problem is that his idea violates the fundamentals of federalism as we watch State’s Rights drift into memory.

Internet gaming is legal in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. I don’t know about Delaware, but Jersey and Nevada have a few brick and mortar casinos and they saw fit to make online gaming legal. Competition is generally viewed as good for the customer. Other states are considering joining these gaming pioneers. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act allows states to make the decision of what gaming is and is not allowed in a state.

Our friend Jabba, I mean Sheldon, doesn’t like that so much. So what’s there to be done when the law is in the way? I wonder if he may know a guy who knows a guy who might be running for President. The kind of powerful Senator who might owe a favor and could change that pesky law. Who could it be? Probably a progressive or liberal Democrat? Maybe Harry Reid? Harry would do that for old Sheldon, right? No. Then who? Who would be willing to crush the rights of the people and states? Cue the Darth Vader music and enter Republican (sort of) Lindsey Graham.

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has introduced “Restore America’s Wire Act,” at the behest of Adelson. The legislation would overturn state laws and prohibit other states from legalizing Internet gaming for their residents. Graham’s position on the bill turns the concept of federalism on its head. This awesome piece of legislation has been referred to Grassley’s committee. Senator Grassley is the gatekeeper, because he is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has the opportunity to do the right thing for all the states of America. Senator Grassley, say no to Sheldon Adelson and tell Lindsey to be careful who your friends are. Especially, if he doesn’t want to sleep with the fishes…did you see Harry Reid after he “fell” of his treadmill?

All kidding aside, Federalism is a core principle for conservatives. The Heritage Foundation describes Federalism as “the American plan of constitutional government, the national government was never supposed to have all of the power or make all of the decisions. Indeed, most powers of government were located, and the decisions that affect citizens’ day-to-day lives were to be made, at the state level.” That concept is under attack today.

Senator Grassley has an opportunity to stand against well-funded special interests to protect federalism and the right of Iowans and other states to make their own decisions about gaming.

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Steve Sherman of North Liberty is a writer, radio commentator and a former Iowa House Republican candidate. Contact him at