The RAWA Hearing that was supposed to happen on Capitol Hill earlier this month was postponed due to inclement weather, rescheduled for this Wednesday, March 25th. The Poker Players Alliance was relieved by the postponement as it gave everyone time to learn who would appear on the witness panel. That relief has turned to disgust as it turns out—as suspected—the list of witnesses appears to be heavily stacked in favor of Sheldon Adelson and his fellow online gambling opponents.
A tentative list of witnesses has been published by veteran iGaming journalist Steve Ruddock, and while no official word has come down from the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security—the committee scheduled to hold the RAWA hearing—most of those named do not bode well for online poker players.
List of Tentative RAWA Hearing Witnesses, per PPA
|Professor John Kindt||University of Illinois|
|Les Bernal||National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling|
|Professor Mike Fagan||Wash U – St. Louis Law School|
|Parry Aftab||Attorney specializing in Internet Privacy and Security, and former Board member of the now defunct online gaming lobby group FairPlay USA|
Only one of those four expected witnesses might shed some positive light on the need to reject RAWA. Parry Aftab has been advocating iGaming regulation for years now. Ruddock called her “a strong, educated voice,” whose been called upon on numerous occasions to provide expert witness during Congressional hearings.
As for the other rumored witnesses at the RAWA hearing, Ruddock was disappointed, to put it mildly.
Professor John Kindt is considered the worst possible witness for those who support state regulated online poker. Ruddock called Kindt’s views on gaming laws radical, saying that he’s gone so far as to request the US government mirror its gaming laws to that of Russian President, Vladimir Putin. “[H]e also likes the gaming policies of Chechen President Ramazan Kadyrov, who just so happens to land on Human Rights Watch list of human rights violators,” said Ruddock.
RAWA Hearing represents Capitol Cronyism at its Worst
Erik Telford, Senior VP of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, published an editorial on RedState.com calling RAWA “a naked attempt to advance the crony interests of GOP mega donor, and casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, Telford said, “perhaps most shockingly, proponents of the bill won’t give opponents of the legislation a seat at the table…
“Critics say Committee members boxed out conservative opposition from the hearing, in favor of hosting an exercise in political theater designed to raise the bill’s profile and push it forward, allowing only proponents of the legislation to testify,” wrote Telford. He gave several examples in which free-market groups requested the chance to testify at the RAWA Hearing on “the negative affect of an online gambling ban but were blocked from doing so.”
As Telford was quick to point out, “At the very same time that Congressman Chaffetz and Republicans are criticizing President Obama for advancing crony interests by regulating the Internet at the FCC, they are doing the exact same thing in Congress.”