December 9 RAWA Hearing Has Been Named “A Casino in Every Smartphone”

The hearings on Restore America’s Wire Act set for Wednesday of this week was given a dubious name by Rep. Jason Chaffetz: “A Casino in Every Smartphone“. Chaffetz is the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, which is going to discuss the proposed anti-online gambling ban this week.

No list has been released of the witnesses to be called yet. Jason Chaffetz is the man who first introduced RAWA to the House of Representatives in the spring of 2014, so he can be expected to stack the hearing with pro-RAWA advocates.

Some of the witnesses can be expected to be the same as those who testifed in the House of Representatives earlier this year. Though Rep. Bob Goodlatte approved the list for that hearing, Jason Chaffetz was a member of the subcommittee which heard the testimony, so he would have been well-placed to form opinions on the effectiveness of such experts.

Witnesses at Previous Hearings

The last time RAWA was discussed in the House of Representatives was in March 2015, when there were hearings before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. At the time, Chairman Bob Goodlatte stacked the discussions with those who were pro-RAWA. Rep. Goodlatte also made the bold claim that online gambling “could lead to suicide“, as if that was a distinct possibility for all Internet gamblers.

The March hearings contained two figures who are familiar to those who follow anti-gambling legislation: notable anti-gaming advoctate John Kindt of the University of Illinois School of Law and Les Bernal of “Stop Predatory Gambling”. John Kindt argued for policies even more restrictive than RAWA even, using favorite mantras like “click your mouse, lose your house” and “click your phone, lose your home“.

Les Bernal’s Arguments

Les Bernal attacked the frequent arguments against the federal ban on gambling: that it destroys state’s rights. Terming a state like New Jersey that offers legal online gambling “predatory”, Les Bernal stated, “If not the federal government, [then] who will step in to protect the rights of individuals against these practices by an active, predatory state?”

He also tackled the PPA’s argument that banning gambling would not stop illegal operators. Proponents of legal and regulated online gambling argue that licensed websites allow a healthier and safer gaming environment by offering a legal alternative to banned operators, thus robbing the illegal sites of their customers. Bernal simply flipped the argument, saying mere regulations would not end illegal gambling, and thus only a ban like RAWA should be enacted. This ignored the fact that a ban like RAWA also would not shut down those illegal sites.

Michael Fagan on Online Gambling

The Judiciary Subcommittee also called U.S. Assistant Attorney Michael Fagan, who said that gaming websites could be used to launder money for terrorists networks. He failed to mention the websites in question were illegal operators and not the sites that are licensed by New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware at the moment, which are owned by publicly traded companies and not terrorist cells.

Pro-Regulation Witnesses

WiredSafety executive director Parry Aftab was called to testify and she gave the other side of the argument. Parry Aftab testified that the technology exists to restrict online gambling to a single state, so sites which operate in New Jersey do not allow gamblers in South Carolina, Utah, or other states which ban iGaming.

Since they first introduced Restore America’s Wire Act, Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Lindsey Graham have argued that New Jersey’s gaming preys upon citizens of Utah and South Carolina who have smartphones — which simply is not the case. Parry Aftab furthered argued that regulated online gambling protects citizens, while a ban leaves those with a gaming addiction prey to illegal offshore operators, since that is the only game they can play.

Andrew Moylan on State’s Rights

Andrew Moylan, a respected K Street lobbyist, gave a traditional conservative view that a federal ban on online gambling would trample on state’s rights. Moylan’s arguments were similar to those of a number of libertarian Republicans, who believe Restore America’s Wire Act is a dangerous expansion of the power of the federal government.

The list of conservatives who oppose RAWA includes Andrew Quinlan of CF&P, Seton Mobley of “Less Government”, Grover Norquist of K Street and the NRA, Norm Singleton of “Campaign for Liberty”, Thomas Schatz of the “Council for Citizens Against Government Waste”, David Williams of “Taxpayers Protection Alliance”, former Rep. Ron Paul, and Sen. Rand Paul.

Each of these men believe RAWA is irresponsible and could lead to federal encroachment of state’s rights on other issues — that federal bans on state-regulated activities is a “slippery slope”.

Those Called to Testify at RAWA Hearing

Below is late-breaking news on the people called to testify. None of the witnesses chosen are the same as the experts used in the March hearings. In fact, it is possible those called to testify might well represent a more even-handed selection.

– Alan M. Wilson (Attorney General of South Carolina) – Advocates for an online gambling ban.
– Mark Lipparelli (Nevada State Senator) – Supports gambling, once sat on the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
– Joseph S. Campbell (Asst Director FBI Criminal Investigative Division) – Should be relatively neutral and factual on the issue.
– Donald W. Kleine (Attorney from Douglas County, Nebraska) – Donald Kleine is an unknown factor, but it can be assumed Chaffetz chose him to support RAWA.

Once the hearing happens, Legal US Poker Sites will report on the performance of each testifier.

Quotes on RAWA

Any of the men listed above would be solid witnesses for Jason Chaffetz to call, but they are certain to be ignored. Each man has been quoted in the past year making a solid case against a Washington DC-imposed ban on online gambling. Below is a selection of their quotes.

David Williams of the TPA said, “The Taxpayers Protection Alliance…is also proud to be a part of this coalition that has fought against a federal ban of online gaming and preserving a free-market approach. The federal government should not be dictating how states decide this issue nor should they be using this as a backdoor route for Internet regulations.

Seton Mobley, who serves at the President of Less Government, made the succint argument against the RAWA ban when he said, “If the Constitution doesn’t expressly enumerate a federal government power — the Ninth and Tenth Amendments dictate the federal government doesn’t have that power. There is no such expressly enumerated power over gambling — so the Feds don’t have the juice for RAWA.

Andrew Quinlan of CF&P said, “There is a great variety of gaming rules among the states, reflecting the different preferences of their respective populations. Washington should respect their wishes and not dictate to the states how best to handle their internal affairs.

Norm Singleton of the Campaign for Liberty was bold in saying, “If Congress passes RAWA it will be a slap in the face to those who thought the new Republican-led Congress would respect the constitution’s limitations on federal power, oppose any new federal infringements on individual liberty, and oppose crony capitalism.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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