Tuesday March 24,2015 : TIMELY BLOG COMMENTS
With the RAWA Congressional hearing due Wednesday, two expert views worth reading.
Andrew Quinlan, president of the national think tank Center for Freedom and Prosperity, and respected online gambling writer Chris Grove published two expert opinions on the widely read blog at The Hill this week, perfectly timed to appear immediately before Wednesday's Congressional hearing on the Restoration of the American Wire Act, a proposal that seeks bans on internet gambling being driven by land casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
Both single out Adelson for criticism in pushing RAWA and question his motivation, with Quinlan casting suspicion on the actions of “a handful” of Republican Party politicians in accepting Adelson largesse and introducing bills that reek of corporate cronyism.
Exhibiting a good grasp of the old Wire Act and its history, Quinlan points out that previous to the 2011 Department of Justice opinion that the 1961 Wire Act applies only to sports betting, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had come to the same conclusion, casting serious doubt on RAWA introducer Rep. Jason Chaffetz's claim that the DoJ had overreached its authority in making the 2011 declaration.
Quinlan also takes exception to the anti-online gambling bias apparent in the witness list leaked last week, observing:
"Rather than hold a fair and equal inquisition into the issue, the deck will be stacked with witnesses in favor of the Adelson bill if the planned list from the postponed hearing earlier this month is anything to go by. It included one witness who has argued that the federal government should outlaw all gaming in the states in one fell swoop."
He goes on to ask why Congressional Republicans would want to go back to the old interpretation at all when it violates so many of their stated Republican principles – such as individual liberty, personal responsibility, and adherence to the 10th Amendment (state's rights).
"If members of Congress want to enact an explicit federal prohibition of online gambling they should be clear about why they believe that is the best policy…that would mean explaining to the American people why they think it's so important to eliminate any potential competition to the business of one of their party's largest donors," Quinlan comments.
He offers advice to the Republican leadership on the issue: "The sooner the Republican leadership tells Adelson that the proper forum to overturn state laws he opposes is in state legislatures, the better off they will be," and he concludes:
"Republicans should fold their cards, cut their losses, shuffle the deck and find a new issue to champion. One that is consistent with the Constitution and their oft stated principles."
Chris Grove's contribution to The Hill blog was equally critical of RAWA political supporters, but he focused on the damage that RAWA could cause should it be passed by Congress.
Pointing to the three states that already have regulated and licensed online gambling in operation, and other states that have embraced online state lottery activity, Grove claims that RAWA would risk thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue, while doing nothing to decrease the demand for or availability of online gambling.
"Regulated online gambling also supports thousands of additional jobs via the broader economic ecosystem surrounding the industry. Geolocation providers like Geocomply, payment facilitators like Sightline and identity verification services like CAMS are just three of the hundreds of companies supported by regulated online gambling," he reminds readers.
"Local media outlets profit handsomely from online casino marketing spend, as do marketing affiliates, to say nothing of partners like the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers that have struck multi-million dollar deals with regulated online casinos.
"Additionally, RAWA would cost states with regulated online gambling industries millions in tax revenue and deny other states that future opportunity. Regulated online gambling generated over $20 million in direct tax revenue for New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada in 2014. States like Illinois, Michigan and Georgia generated millions more in state revenue via online lottery sales. RAWA would cut off all of that revenue with the flick of a pen."
Grove points out that RAWA already has carve-outs for horse race betting, daily fantasy sports and closed circuit systems for internet gaming on-premises, and that political deal making may add to the list.
He also notes that RAWA provides no additional tools, resources or funding for U.S. officials to address the issue of black market online gambling.
Grove concludes that RAWA is plain bad policy that will eliminate good jobs and cost real revenue while doing nothing to solve the problem it purports to attack.