Pala Interactive’s Jim Ryan Says Federal Ban of iGaming Has “A Good Shot of Passing”
Pala Interactive CEO Jim Ryan recently expressed strong concerns that the Restoration of the Wire Act legislation could pass in 2015. Mr. Ryan, who is the former CEO of Party Gaming, said that the RAWA has a much better chance of passing in 2015 than it did in 2014.
The gaming executive spoke on a number of subjects, including his own company’s plans for 2015 and the chances of state-level online gaming legislation passing this year. The quotes seized upon by the online gambling community were those involving legislation introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Jason Chaffetz of Utah last week.
Jim Ryan Online Gambling Quotes Quotes
Jim Ryan spoke to the website Pocket Fives recently. He said, “I think Adelson’s legislation has a good shot of passing. We have a Republican-controlled Congress and a well-financed political effort to amend the Wire Act. This is the most significant threat we’ve had post-Black Friday.”
Mr. Ryan says that Sheldon Adelson and his congressional allies’ arguments are simply wrong. Ryan said, “They’re worried about underage gambling and terrorism. Why push it into the black market as opposed to regulating it? I would love to get involved in the debate when that point is discussed.”
Lindsey Graham’s Arguments
Last week’s discussion between Senator Lindsey Graham and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch was a good example of what Jim Ryan is talking about. Lindsey Graham, who is calling for an end to all regulated online gambling in the United States, made the point that unregulated online gambling could help fund anti-American terrorist cells.
Jim Ryan is implying that’s an odd point to make, when Graham’s arguing that all online gambling sites should be unregulated. In effect, Sen. Graham seems to want more money to go to terrorists. Since the senator from South Carolina would never actually argue for such an eventuality, he seems to be assuming that banning online gaming would automatically end all US-facing online casinos and poker rooms.
Prohibition Helps Illegal Operators
History shows that isn’t the case. Banning vices has never kept people from engaging in those vices, from Prohibition to the War on Drugs. In each case, bans only helped organized crime. For instance, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act bans land-based sports betting in all but four states. Because of that ban, the USA had $115 million of legal sports bets placed on Super Bowl 49, while $3.8 billion was placed through illegal sportsbooks and bookies.
Illegal bookmakers collected 38 times more money than the licensed and legitimate sportsbooks, because the practice is banned in most states. Jim Ryan is saying he would like to debate that point with Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz. He suggests that Sen. Graham is implying a connection between legalized online casinos and terrorists, because he believes Americans are too ignorant to notice the difference. Graham says “terrorists” and Americans are supposed to cringe in fear.
Ryan Fears RAWA Is a Possibility
Despite having the fact on the sides of pro-online gambling arguments, Jim Ryan fears the RAWA could happen. He is therefore sounding a call to arms, because he fears that legal online casinos and card rooms could go away with a stroke of Barack Obama’s pen.
Odds of Online Gaming Ban Happening
GovTrack, which tracks all bills in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, also provides an estimated percentage of a bill passing. In this case, the 2015 equivalent of Restoration of America’s Wire Act, labeled in the House “H.R. 707“, has a 2% chance of passing.
Luckily, the chances still seem small, according to those who sit outside the online gambling industry. But Jim Ryan is saying it could happen, so the gaming community needs to talk to their congressional representatives.
Pala Interactive News
Pala Interactive itself has an exciting future, if the RAWA bill doesn’t end the fun. Pala entered the New Jersey market in November 2014 after signing a partnership with Borgata. Even though the entry of PokerStars into the market could dampen enthusiasm, it’s a good move which should help both partners.
Pala hoped to launch a website in its homestate of California, but the Golden State’s legislators still have not been able to agree on gambling regulations. PokerStars once again plays a big role, because of controversy between the tribal gaming interests over whether PokerStars should enter the California market as a full competitor, or whether it should be barred as a bad actor.
California Legislation Comments
Jim Ryan says that the California bill was closer to completion than most people suspected. Though all sides nearly agreed last year, the chances of an accord in 2015 are somewhat smaller. Ryan said, “Boy, did we come close last year. We had a unified bill drafted. We had 13 of California’s most significant tribes ready to do it, but we ran out of time. We needed to nail down the racetrack issue. I started this legislative session being optimistic, although I would give it low odds of a bill passing in 2015, but that’s subject to change.“
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