A scheduled March 5 hearing before a congressional subcommittee on a bill to ban online gambling in the U.S. has been postponed.
Debate by federal legislators over the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) will have to wait for another time and date as the forecast of a winter snow storm accompanied by bone-chilling temperatures has forced the hearing to be nixed. A new hearing date has not yet been announced.
RAWA is the Sheldon Adelson-backed proposal introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) that aims to do away with online poker and gambling in the U.S. That includes the three states that have enacted regulations thus far.
It’s fortunate that Mother Nature appears to be on the side of pro online poker as the witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing weighed heavily in favor of abolishing igaming. Hearings are typically intended to be fact-finding missions that give lawmakers a better understanding of the issues at hand. As such, proper representation on behalf of both sides of the online gambling debate would be the fair way to go.
But the cancelled hearing saw a 3 to 1 advantage in witnesses for anti-igaming activists. Les Bernal, the National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling; John Kindt, a Professor at the University of Illinois and contributor to 2006 UIGEA legislation; and Mike Fagan, a DoJ prosecutor before moving on to teach a course entitled “International Money Laundering, Corruption and Terrorism” at a law school in Missouri were all set to lend their expertise. The pro side was to be represented by Parry Aftab, founder of WiredSafety.com and a specialist in Internet security.
Notably missing from receiving an invitation to testify were gaming regulators from any of the three states that are currently regulated. Likewise for any of the groups that have spoken out against RAWA in the past such as the Campaign for Liberty and Americans for Tax Reform.
The Poker Players Alliance has worked tirelessly to counter the threat of RAWA, which has the support of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. CSIG was created by Adelson in late 2013.
A petition opposing RAWA started by the PPA has been circulating, tallying hundreds of signatures at present. PPA Executive Director John Pappas took the fight to Capitol Hill last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Ironically, with a congressional hearing date already set, nobody from CSIG showed up at the conference. The anti-online gambling crowd were likely ready to lay their cards on the table at the March 5 hearing, but the forces of nature had other plans.