Tuesday, March 03, 2015

RAWA Hearing Nearing

This Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) has reared its head again, with the bill having been introduced here in the new Congress. I was just reading about the hearing for the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations to discuss it that had been scheduled for Thursday morning, although it appears that has now been postponed to a later date.

RAWA is the Sheldon Adelson-backed bill proposing to rewrite (not really “restore”) the Federal Wire Act of 1961 to prohibit most forms of online gambling. That would include current state-regulated online gambling (and poker) such as we have in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, although horse racing and fantasy sports would be excepted.

The bill got some notice last December during the “lame duck” session with some thinking it could get added to the big omnibus spending bill passed then, but that didn’t happen. So RAWA got reintroduced this year in both the House and the Senate, and now it is sounding like it is getting more attention early on in the Congressional cycle this time around.

The fact that it’s the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations gives you an idea where the focus will be when it comes to this impending discussion of possibly prohibiting online gambling. The list of folks slated to appear as witnesses at the postponed hearing also suggests we should be ready for a mostly one-sided discussion of how some believe online gambling fits into one or more of those categories.

There’s John Kindt who teaches business at the University of Illinois and has been out there comparing online gambling to crack cocaine ever since the internet first became a thing. Les Bernal, the National Director of a group called Stop Predatory Gambling is another on the list. So is Michael K. Fagan, another whom I recall turned up once before as a “Law Enforcement and Anti-Terrorism Consultant” before to express reservations about one of Barney Frank’s online gambling bills in the past (back in 2010).

The only witness who won’t be opposed to regulating online gambling is Parry Aftab, a lawyer who is the Executive Director of WiredSafety.org, a group whose purpose is to increase safety online. She’s also been a witness at previous House hearings regarding such as one in which she spoke in favor of one of Frank’s bills (in 2009) and another where “internet gaming” was discussed (in 2011).

Folks have been opining lately about the prospects for RAWA, with Nolan Dalla not long ago giving 10 reasons why he thinks it could be passed and Steve Ruddock responding with 10 reasons why it hasn’t got a chance. Tend to lean toward the latter view, at least at present.

Am glad, actually, the hearing got postponed, as I’m going to be traveling and thus wouldn’t have been able to follow on Thursday. Still want to see it, even if it’s easy enough to guess how it will go. What happens thereafter with RAWA is less clear.

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