Thursday March 19, 2015 : R.A.W.A. – DON'T FIX THAT WHICH ISN'T BROKEN
PPA executive director attacks federal online gambling banning proposal.
In a rational and fact-based op-ed in the Washington DC political publication Roll Call Wednesday, Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas attacked the Restoration of the American Wire Act, scheduled for a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations on March 26
Titled "The Wire Act — Don't Fix What Isn't Broken," the article gives the historical background to the original Wire Act and argues that the RAWA is in fact not restorative, but is an attempt to expand prohibitions to include internet gambling, and constitutes federal overreach.
In deciding that the 1961 Wire Act applies only to sports betting, the Department of Justice correctly interpreted its intent, Pappas asserts, noting that the decision corresponds to a finding by the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which came to the same conclusion.
Nevertheless, a number of failed political attempts to expand the Wire Act have taken place over the years preceding the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which contained a definition of “unlawful internet gambling” but exempts state-licensed intrastate gambling activity.
"Despite all the evidence to the contrary, [Jason] Chaffetz [the Utah Representative spearheading the RAWA] is convinced it was Congress’ intent when the act was passed, more than 50 years ago, to prohibit all forms of gambling over the Internet," Pappas writes, noting that the RAWA would not “restore” the Wire Act, it would actually create a brand new federal law that would usurp states’ rights to regulate and police online gaming within their own borders.
He argues that prohibition would "…roll back successful consumer protection driven policies states have already established to authorize Internet poker and other forms of online wagering, leaving consumers completely unprotected and doing nothing to stop illegal offshore Internet gambling from continuing to attract U.S. customers."
Pappas also examines the exemptions already proposed by Chaffetz in the bill, which include internet horse racing and fantasy sports. And he claims that RAWA does nothing to address the current offshore and unregulated market that exists in all 50 states.
"The only thing RAWA bans is states from authorizing and safeguarding online gaming for its citizens," he claims.
"This is particularly dangerous because it prevents state regulators from setting strict licensing standards that require operators to use sophisticated age verification technologies to keep minors off the websites as well as technologies to identify and block problem gamblers," Pappas continues.
"RAWA would also keep trusted and well known U.S. and internationally regulated companies from providing American consumers with a fair game and hamstring U.S. law enforcement from rooting out and prosecuting unregulated operators."
Pappas concludes by pointing out that properly regulated and licensed online gambling is already a reality in certain states, which have benefitted from over a decade of regulatory experience in Europe.
"If Chaffetz is concerned about executive overreach, he should first consider how his own legalization would empower a federal overreach into states’ rights as established by the U.S. Constitution, Pappas opines, suggesting that RAWA is not a fix, but an attempt to rewrite history at the expense of all Americans.