On Wednesday the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations held an initial hearing on internet gambling, with several pro-ban witnesses giving testimony that seemed ignorant to facts on the matter.
The hearing was held to gather testimony on online gambling to help politicians determine whether the Restoration of America's Wire Act bill (formally known as HR707) should be brought up for debate in front of the full House. The bill was introduced by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, who introduced the bill at the behest of anti-online gambling advocate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who donated millions to Republicans and made it known he wants to see a federal ban on internet gambling.
Several of the witnesses such as John Kindt, Les Bernal and Michael Fagan made the case that online gambling is addictive, allows for money laundering, cannot be effectively regulated, allows for underage betting, and can't be contained from borders. Their arguments appeared to be out of date and false, as Kindt cited studies from the 1990's to back up the claim that online gambling is more addictive than land casinos. Recent studies from academic institutions with much more data have refuted those studies.
Pro-online gambling witnesses Parry Aftab and Andrew Moylan presented hard facts and brought up the state's rights argument to back their opposition to the bill, with Moylan saying that RAWA is both wrong and unnecessary, as individual states already have the right to regulate gaming, and they have been effective at containing internet gambling in areas where it is regulated.
It appears that not all politicians are on board with banning online gambling, as Michigan Representative John Conyers said that he is opposed to RAWA, noting: "We cannot ban our way out of this problem. The better option is to allow states to permit online gaming as they see fit, subject to regulation and monitoring."
Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas added, "Today's hearing was about one thing - checking the box to advance Mr. Adelson's bill. While the PPA has always encouraged a national discussion on the value of regulating online gambling, constructing a hearing at the behest of a political donor is an unfortunate waste of everyone's time."
"This bill should die today, so members of the Committee can focus on more pressing matters, and not on legislation that will deny states the ability to protect citizens."
Casino Listings will update this story as more developments arise.