Rep. Jason Chaffetz has long been one of the most outspoken proponents for a federal online gambling ban. He is the sponsor of the House version of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and has been carrying water for Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson for awhile now.
But something he said this week brought into clarity how hypocritical he is in his opposition to iGaming,
Chaffetz on geolocation
One of the key arguments Chaffetz makes against regulation of online poker and gaming? Geolocation technology is not good enough to ring-fence markets, Chaffetz says. He has constantly questioned the ability of states with legal online gaming — Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware — to prevent people from other states from playing.
This week, Chaffetz was again talking about geolocation, but in terms of law enforcement and how effective it is. That came during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on geolocation technology and privacy; Chaffetz chairs that committee.
Luckily, the Poker Players Alliance caught what Chaffetz was saying, for the benefit of the poker-playing world.
In current hearing Rep. Chaffetz discussing his bill that would prevent law enforcement from using geo location tech bc it works too well…
— PokerPlayersAlliance (@ppapoker) March 2, 2016
More on the hearing and what Chaffetz said here:
“Geolocation is more than just a record of where we are or were,” Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said. “Just because it’s easier in 2016 for law enforcement to track our location and learn intimate details about our lives doesn’t mean those details are somehow less worthy of constitutional protection.”
But wait, doesn’t Chaffetz think the opposite?
Just a few months ago, during a debacle of a hearing on RAWA in front of the same committee, Chaffetz was saying how poor geolocation technology was:
“For anybody to argue that the internet can be walled off and used in just these certain boundaries, it’s a joke, come on,” Chaffetz said, although at least one witness and several committee members did exactly that, later on in the hearing. “No one with a straight face is going to come before the American people and say, well the internet, it’s just for the people of Nevada, or it’s just for the people of Rhode Island.”
Basically, geolocation can’t possibly work for online gambling, but it’s so good that its use by law enforcement might need to be curtailed. That’s certainly a head-scratcher.
So, which is it, Jason?
Even for a politician in Congress, this seems like a pretty hypocritical stance.
It’s likely Chaffetz could come up with some political mumbo-jumbo to square how geolocation is really great when used by law enforcement, but really poor when used to limit who can use an app or a website, based on their location.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason Chaffetz cites for his opposition to online gambling, but it does remain one of the central arguments he uses in why states shouldn’t be left to their own devices when it comes to iGaming.
Will this apparent hypocrisy stop Chaffetz from trying to advance an online gambling ban? That’s unlikely. But the effort to pass RAWA might be dead after December hearing, anyway; Chaffetz’ stance on geolocation is just more fuel for pointing out his hypocrisy on the matter.