House Judiciary Holds Hearing to Discuss Online Gambling and Restore America’s Wire Act
On Wednesday, a hearing took place in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations to discuss the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. The RAWA is a proposed bill that would ban online gambling throughout the United States. The hearing is an instructive moment in this legislative session, because the deliberations on Restoration of America’s Wire Act touches upon topics of state’s rights, privacy issues, morality laws, the relative advantages and limitations of technology, and fearmongering in politics.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Michael Fagan; Executive Director Parry Aftab of WiredSafety; National Director Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling; Executive Director Andrew Moylan R Street Institute; and long-time gambling critic John Kindt. Of those who spoke, Fagan, Bernal, and Kindt were proponents of the RAWA and Aftab and Moylan were proponents of online gambling.
John Kindt Called iGaming “Crack Cocaine”
John Kindt gave his standard argument against online gambling, citing outdated research from 15 years ago to make his points. Kindt used the term “crack cocaine of gambling” to describe the online gambling industry, as he has done many times before.
John Kindt, who has made a career out of criticising gambling, said to the congressional subcommittee, “Internet gambling places real-time gambling on every cell phone, at every school desk, at every work desk, and in every living room.”
Kindt Quoted Sheldon Adelson
The anti-gambling advocate also used a direct quote from Sheldon Adelson, the gaming executive who is considered to have masterminded the RAWA bill. Kindt quote Adelson when he said, “With ease people can click your phone, lose your home or click your mouse, lose your house.”
Both Kindt and Rep. Jason Chaffetz discussed the geolocation software in the same terms Sheldon Adelson did at the Global Gaming Conference last fall, when Adelson suggested any teenager who wanted to gamble would be able to hack the technology and play at will. Chaffetz asked rhetorically whether anyone in the audience believed a “technologically savvy 16-year-old” would be blocked by geolocation restrictions, as if the answer was obvious.
Parry Aftab Explained Geolocation Software
WiredSafety’s Parry Aftab answered Chaffetz’ question with the actual 2-year record of regulated gambling, which has shown the technology to be effective. Aftab answered, “The verdict is in–with the exception of a handful of incidents which were quickly addressed, all stakeholders are safer and minors are being locked out of online gambling sites,” Aftab said. “It is much easier for them to get fake IDs and wander into a brick-and-mortar casino than get past the levels of age-gating used by online casinos. If you can’t prove that you are an adult, the site is closed to you. Period.”
Proponents of the RAWA seem to take the Hollywood view of computer technology in which anyone with a computer can tap a few times on a keyboard and hack the Pentagon. That attitude is taken to ridiculous levels when 80-year old men and senators who have never sent an email stereotype all teenagers as savvy computer hackers with access to large sums of cash (they quickly lose). Such assumptions are nothing more than fear-mongering.
Les Bernal Confused Regulated & Unregulated Gaming
Les Bernal suggested that laws against gambling limit such activities, while he also claimed that no research suggests that legal gambling leads to less cases of illegal gambling. Such activity would be hard for researchers to quantify, since such gaming is done off-the-record most of the time.
Michael Fagan confirmed for the representatives that reports have had online gambling funding terrorism, though Fagan failed to note that those were unregulated online gambling websites. Opponents of online gambling ignore the distinction between regulated and unregulated gaming, because they would have to admit that the publicly-traded companies which exist in the regulated markets do not fund terrorists. The Internet software companies in the New Jersey market, for instance, are traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Andrew Moylan Opposed RAWA
Andrew Moylan contradicted Jason Chaffetz‘s assertion that the RAWA upholds state’s rights (by passing a federal law). Moylan, who is associated with the conservative and libertarian think tank, R Street Institute, said matter-of-factly, “If a state wishes to prohibit gambling within its borders, it has the sufficient power to do so and sufficient legal remedies at its disposal.“