PPA: “No Doubt” Anti-Internet Gambling Legislation Will Be Re-Introduced

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We closed the 2014 calendar year focusing on legislation spearheaded by Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson called Restoring America’s Wire Act. The bill, which would have banned internet gambling and online poker in the US, ended up being stunted in the waning moments of Congress, but according to Poker Players AllianceExecutive Director John Pappas (pictured), a bill like it will soon resurface in Congress.

PocketFives: When do you foresee legislation like RAWA resurfacing?

John Pappas: It’s difficult to predict the timing, but I have no doubt that RAWA-type legislation will be introduced in this Congress. We are on Capitol Hill every day trying to meet with people who cosponsored the bill previously as well as members of relevant committees to educate them on the issues.

PocketFives: Will we see legislation to regulate online gambling this year too?

John Pappas: We have had some good conversations with people who have been supportive in the past and they’re enthusiastic about being supportive again. We are for the freedom of states to explore i-gaming as they see fit as well as a Federal structure for internet poker so you can have that interstate liquidity that’s so vital to the industry.

PocketFives: What is the timing for pro- and anti-internet gambling bills?

John Pappas: I would say you’ll see bills on both sides within the next two or three months.

PocketFives: Will Adelson (pictured) continue to be a driving force after his efforts in 2014 came up short?

John Pappas: I don’t think the money he spent will discourage him. What he can’t ignore is the growing opposition to RAWA. It’ll be interesting to see how much he focuses on Federal legislation versus how much he tries to stop bills at the state level.

PocketFives: How close were we to RAWA passing in 2014?

John Pappas: It was being discussed at the highest levels in the US Congress in how they could include it in last-minute legislation. We knew these discussions were taking place before the November elections, so we did what we could to shine a light on those discussions. There’s no secret it was being discussed. If we had done nothing, it would have been very easy to slip it in.

A combination of the PPA’s grassroots efforts plus the outside groups that opposed it made it politically difficult for them to do it. The legislation is so closely aligned with Adelson that to tack RAWA on at the last minute would have been a clear giveaway to a major mega-donor. If I were Adelson or the Republicans who want to get this done, I’d go through the regular legislative process. Slipping this through in the dark of night will lead to a cynical look at how government works.

PocketFives: Do you foresee any new states coming online this year like California?

John Pappas: You have to suspend any idea of realism when you’re talking about California because of the nature of the tribal influence there. A bill won’t get done until the tribes can congeal around a single proposal. In the last few months, we’ve seen tribes come together and have a growing acceptance to not limiting the competition and not excluding horse tracks and others who rightfully deserve to be part of the industry. We’re optimistic in California, but we recognize that a lot needs to happen before a bill is passed.

Pennsylvania is a really good possibility and I expect we’ll see legislation pop up there. The good thing about California and Pennsylvania is that their legislative processes are longer. Legislation can have time to develop and earn support.

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