The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations will host a hearing this afternoon on Sheldon Adelson’s proposed online gambling ban, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz.
The hearing is scheduled for 4 pm on Wednesday.
The hearing has already been rescheduled twice. The original March 5 hearing was postponed due to weather, and was later rescheduled for March 26 before being moved up a day to its current time slot.
Soon after the hearing was rescheduled, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and other likeminded groups scheduled the technology demonstration.
Opposition to RAWA has grown as hearing approaches
Opponents of RAWA have been ramping up their criticisms as the hearing has drawn near.
State’s rights advocates, Libertarians, state lawmakers and officials, and of course regulated online gambling and online poker supporters have been busy penning columns, urging supporters to contact their representatives, and in the case of the Poker Players Alliance, organizing the much-needed technology demonstration ahead of the hearing in the halls of Congress to show lawmakers and members of the media the realities of regulated online gambling – not the hyperbole and scaremongering seen in 30-second long YouTube videos.
The PPA, along with Caesars Entertainment and GeoComply, are hosting the technology demonstrations on Wednesday, which will showcase geolocation and player verification methods employed by regulated online gaming sites, as well as addressing any other concerns people may have. At the same time they will be debunking many of the opposition’s key talking points, mostly built on mischaracterizations of FBI statements and speculation.
This type of demonstration was one of my 5 ways to win the RAWA hearing, and bodes well for the events later in the day.
The online gambling technology demonstrations
In all the PPA hosted three technology demonstrations on Wednesday.
The first was held at 9:30 am for media members, where, among others, representatives from the Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, and New Jersey Star Ledger got a glimpse of what regulated online poker looks like.
The second demonstration was to highlight the technology and safeguards in place for interested state governors’ offices.
The final demonstration took place at 1 pm just hours before the RAWA hearing. The PPA invited congressional members and staff to attend this final hearing, perhaps hoping to keep the demonstration fresh in their mind while they listen to anti-gambling witnesses.
Who turns up for this final demonstration will be critical, and will likely give us a strong indication of how the RAWA hearing will unfold.
I’m of the opinion that any lawmaker seeking to ban online gambling at the federal level who did not attend this demonstration should not be taken seriously.
Those who are serious about the issue should be willing to listen to both sides before making a decision.
PPA has been incredibly active
In addition to the technology demonstration, the PPA has been extremely active as it spearheads the efforts to oppose RAWA.
PPA Executive Director John Pappas submitted written testimony (not surprisingly, Pappas wasn’t chosen to speak at the hearing), addressing all of the major concerns RAWA supporters have voiced. Pappas also addressed these concerns in an op-ed that appeared in Roll Call last week.
Additionally, Pappas created a YouTube advocacy message video, in which he implores poker players to contact their congressional representatives:
Why the technology demonstration is so important
This type of demonstration is long overdue, and should help put an end to theoretical discussions of a very real industry. There is no need to guess what effects online gambling will have on society – we have evidence that clearly shows us what has happened.
The framing of this argument by RAWA supporters is as ridiculous as giving a presentation on what could happen if Boston was hit with over 100 inches of snow in a single winter. Regulated online gambling is not theory, it’s reality.