I didn’t make it to CPAC this year due to an annoying medical situation I won’t bore you with, but if I had I might have taken part in a survey which was being conducted by the Institute for Liberty. They were sampling the feelings of the conservative attendees about that annoying old chestnut, the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA). This is a bill which is been knocking around for a while and was crafted at the behest of conservative mega donor Sheldon Adelson. It basically seeks to prohibit all online gambling activity at the state level for reasons which are dubious at best. The response of the attendees of the conference was almost completely universal in giving it a thumbs down. (The Hill)

During the Conservative Political Action Conference held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, the Institute for Liberty conducted a survey of the attendees that should give pause to those in Congress seeking to placate the GOP’s biggest donor.

An incredible nine in ten participants said they would oppose efforts to have the federal government overturn state laws regarding online gaming. In addition, 88 percent said they see RAWA as an example of cronyism. In an age of political division and factionalism, the results are staggering.

Despite millions of dollars in Astroturf spending and political contributions, it is clear that conservatives see the bill for what it is – one of the worst forms of crony capitalism in Congress today.

Granted, the survey was conducted using a microcosm of the nation as subjects, but they do represent the most active and vocal elements of the conservative movement in many cases. To get that sort of agreement about a proposal being put forward by someone who supplies so much money to Republican candidates is shocking indeed. The fact that the bill has been sponsored by both Lindsey Graham and Jason Chaffetz complicates the issue all the more.

It doesn’t take long to look into the details of RAWA and come away with a bad taste in your mouth, particularly when you consider who it is that wants this proposal made into law so badly. If this were some effort to crack down on or simply eliminate gambling entirely and it was being based on a concern for the welfare of those who suffer from a gambling addiction one might at least be able to begin framing an argument in favor of it. This legislation however, is absolutely nothing of the sort. This is an attempt to stifle competition to Abelson’s brick-and-mortar casinos who have been losing business to daily fantasy sports leagues, online lottery ticket sales and Internet gaming applications such as Poker Stars.

Let’s just call this what it is. As so many of the conference attendees noted, this is nothing more than crony capitalism at its worst. I’m sure that many candidates have benefited tremendously from Sheldon Adelson’s generosity in the past, but such funding does not entitle him to rewrite the laws of the country strictly to benefit his own bottom line. Further, the idea that Adelson and his partners have some deeply held concern for the travails of gamblers who cannot control their own impulses is a joke. Passing this bill into law would be a massive black eye for the Republican Party and the conservative movement in general. The sponsors of the bill should thank Mr. Adelson for his many contributions but inform him that this just isn’t going to happen.