RAWA Supporters Continue To Try To Fit Square Pegs In Round Holes

Steve Ruddock December 10, 2015 1599 Reads
RAWA Support

It’s not much of a stretch to say some of the talking points used by RAWA supporters over the years aren’t exactly grounded in reality, but Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s logic may be the most flawed of them all, as he seems to be supporting the bill while at the same time making a strong case against it.

Laxalt is a recent and surprising RAWA supporter (with ties to Sheldon Adelson), and since the bill could upend several industries in his home state of Nevada, he’s received a lot of pushback from the likes of Governor Brian Sandoval and Nevada Gaming Control Board chief AG Burnett.

This blowback led to Laxalt recently couching his support in a letter he penned to the leadership of the House Judiciary Committee, and in doing so he completely undermined everything RAWA stands for.

Laxalt said in part:

“With regard to Nevada-licensed Internet gaming operators, both current and past, I am unaware of any evidence to suggest that the foregoing description applies. On the contrary, I would note that Nevada’s gaming regulatory agencies are the finest in the world and have required any person or entity, prior o deploying any Internet-based or related technology, to submit to exhaustive background and business probity investigations. I am confident in the work of Nevada regulators to ensure the quality of Nevada gaming licensees. With regard to unlicensed Internet gaming, I share the potential concerns expressed in the RAWA letter.”

What Laxalt appears to be saying is Nevada (and one would suspect other august regulatory bodies) is capable of regulating online gambling activities, but he’s supporting RAWA (which would ban state regulated online gambling) because of concerns of unregulated online gambling… which is currently filling the void in any state without licensed online gambling operators.

Laxalt went on to say [bold mine]:

“while I agree with the spirit of RAWA- recognizing the quasi-legislative impact of the 2011 Opinion and the resulting need for Congress to review and opine on the reach and application of the Wire Act- I also believe that it is incumbent upon the policymakers of Congress to protect current and future technological innovation of licensed and regulated gaming-related devices, table games, accounting, financial, and player reward systems, as well as other systems and networks central to the success of land-based casino resorts, from any prohibition that may result from overly broad amendment language to the Wire Act of 1961.”

I’m not sure the attorney general understands what a prohibition is, or the finality of passing RAWA in its current form.  

The Las Vegas Review-Journal summed up Laxalt’s paradoxical stance thusly:

“Laxalt offered an additional “point of clarification” to the AG’s letter, which stated the Wire Act changes opened the door to money laundering and other nefarious activities. He credited Nevada’s strict gaming regulatory structure with keeping those elements out of the Silver State and said he was “unaware of any evidence” to the contrary.”

Long history of head-scratching statements

Laxalt isn’t the first RAWA supporter whose had a hard time making sense of their talking points, and wound up twisting themselves into the proverbial pretzel. The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) has long struggled to explain their stance.

Repeatedly telling people the sky will fall if something that already exists (and to date hasn’t led to the sky falling) is allowed to come to fruition is disingenuous enough, but throw in the carveouts for some forms of online gambling/wagering like fantasy sports, horse racing, sports betting, and potentially lottery, and it would appear that their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

It’s even worse when they argue brick & mortar casinos can better detect problem gambling, underage gambling, or money laundering; something law enforcement and problem gambling groups dispute. Or when they say that technology to ring fence a market doesn’t exist minutes after a company like GeoComply demonstrates this very technology in action.

Their arguments include:

  • Technology works here (to ringfence online sportsbetting in Nevada), but not here (to ring-fence online poker in Nevada), even though it’s the same technology.
  • Sure Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have offered legal online gaming for over two years, but what proof do we have that it works?

But it gets worse.

At a hearing in Pennsylvania, Sheldon Adelson henchman Andy Abboud tried to argue that because there are no documented cases of underage gambling in the regulated online gambling markets this is a clear indication it’s happening.

And then there was Willie Brown, who while fighting for a federal prohibition got so turned around in his own arguments that by the end of the debate he was essentially making the case for legalizing and regulating online gambling, much like Laxalt is unwittingly doing in his letter.

The cavalcade continues

One would think expert witnesses would look into the matter before regurgitating claims, but at Wednesday’s RAWA hearing two witnesses (as well as several politicians) continued to try to jam square pegs into round holes.

Based on their prepared testimony, Douglas County Attorney Donald Kleine and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson have adopted CSIG talking points wholesale.

Wilson argues that RAWA (a FEDERAL prohibition of online gambling that takes the decision away from the states) protects state’s rights.

Kleine has adopted the position that legalizing online gambling would somehow overburden law enforcement, even though his state is currently serviced by illegal online gambling operators. As was first reported by CEI’s Michelle Minton, Kleine, like most RAWA supporters,  has strong ties to the architect of the federal online gambling ban, Sheldon Adelson.

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