Wednesday March 4,2015 : R.A.W.A. CONGRESSIONAL HEARING POSTPONED (Update)
Bad weather forces suspension of Thursday's hearing.
Thursday's Congressional hearing on the Restoration of the American Wire Act by the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations has been postponed due to inclement weather to a date to be advised.
Nevertheless, the industry has plenty to talk about, given the release of the list of witnesses scheduled to give evidence, which includes some pretty controversial figures.
There's also the composition of the 16-person committee itself, which appears to include supporters of the RAWA measure like introducer Rep. Jason Chaffetz, along with five co-sponsors of his bill and the committee vice-chairman Louie Gohmert.
On the face of it, the witness list suggests that there will be more witnesses speaking in favour of RAWA than those against it:
Parry Aftab of WiredSafety.org is likely to be the odd man out in suggesting that regulation is better than the ban on most forms of online gambling which RAWA represents. He is likely to produce properly documented evidence on the risk factors involved and his conclusion that regulation and licensing is a more sensible course to follow.
Ranged against this positive input are three individuals known for their virulently anti-online gambling views.
First is the notorious and high profile anti- gambling crusader, John Kindt, who since the earliest days of online gambling has been known to play fast and loose with the facts in favour of generally unsubstantiated and exaggerated arguments and short quotable quotes.
Then there's Les Bernal, the national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, and Michael Fagan, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney who now lectures at Washington U on money laundering, crime, corruption and terrorism, and has in the past expressed the view that online gambling facilitates all of these evils.
The exclusion of experts who have conducted respectable, fact-based research on the subject, like Michelle Minton from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or experienced regulators like David Rebuck from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, or pro-online gambling experts like John Pappas of the PPA, suggests that the witness list has been "loaded" to produce a desired outcome in favour of RAWA in order to aid its further progress.
Additionally, there does not appear to be provision for argument on states' rights and internet freedom, critical elements in any debate on RAWA.
Commenting on the biased nature of the witness list, PPA executive director John Pappas revealed that the Alliance will submit written evidence, but commented: "It's very concerning that the committee is ignoring key issues and shutting people out to stack the deck solely for those one-sided anti-Internet advocates."
The postponement of the hearing will give players more time to get involved in the issue, and the PPA is already urging US online poker fans to get in touch with their political representatives to urge them to reject the RAWA initiative.
Pappas says in a PPA website advisory: “The opponents of your freedom to play online, led by casino magnate billionaire Sheldon Adelson, have stacked the deck for this hearing. They have loaded the witness panel with anti-poker zealots who have no real world knowledge of how Internet poker works.”
This action follows a player petition against RAWA launched by the Alliance earlier this week
The petition and a list of contact details for Congressmen in each state is available on the PPA website.