While many in the online poker industry were worried about yesterday’s Congressional hearing titled ‘A Casino in Every Smartphone—Law Enforcement Implications’ would push the RAWA agenda, it seems to have done the opposite. Many witnesses in attendance showed their opposition to the measure, helping to support online poker gaming instead.
The hearing, hosted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was filled with the Restoration of America’s Wire Act supporters, were the witnesses and Chairman Jason Chaffetz. The bill was not up for voting as the hearing was solely based on providing information. It was interesting to watch as most every committee member seemed to be in opposition of the RAWA legislation or the prospective ban of online gambling in the United States.
Chaffetz started the hearing with information regarding what RAWA shows as reasoning why online gaming does not work. Included in the information was the changes by the DOJ with the Wire Act of 1961 was against the intent of the law, geolocation ‘walling off’ and that minors can have access to online gaming.
In his discussion, Chaffatz stated that for anyone to argue that the internet can be walled off and only used in certain boundaries is a joke. Chaffatz also tried to push RAWA as a ‘states’ rights’ bill. Most issues that Chaffatz argues have been disproven from geolocation to age limits.
Counterpoints were given in response including information by Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey. The representative stated that regulated online gambling is actually safer than the banning of it. In her statements, Watson Colmen said that the evidence clearly demonstrates that with proper regulation, in-state online gambling option poses no more challenge to law enforcement or a risk to consumers than the land based casinos. She also included slides of geolocation technology and how it functions.
Four witnesses were on the agenda, each preparing testimony for the hearing. The Assistant Director FBI Criminal Investigative Division, Joseph Campbell, covered aspects of online gambling in regards to potential criminal activity. The Attorney General of South Carolina, Alan Wilson, was in support of RAWA and a full federal ban.
Douglas County Attorney, Donald W. Kleine, discussed the difficulty of local enforcement dealing with iGaming. Former Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the State Senator of Nevada, Mark Lipparelli, discussed how his state had been successful with online gambling, especially in regards to a regulated gaming environment.
By the end of the hearing, it was clear the hearing did not go in favor of Chaffetz and the RAWA agenda. The testimony of witnesses and questions by committee members tend to lean towards the fact that a vote in favor of RAWA in the committee is not going to happen soon.
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