On Wednesday at 1:00pm ET, there will be a hearing on internet gambling in front of the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing, which will be held in the Rayburn House Office Building, is entitled “A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications.”
There is a reason why the name of the hearing is so transparently anti-online gambling. The Committee’s Chairman, the man who organized this whole thing, is Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – UT, pictured) who introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) into the House this year. RAWA would, in a nutshell, make most online gambling illegal in the United States, including internet gambling that is already legal and regulated in Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.
RAWA was written by one of Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO Sheldon Adelson‘s lobbyists as an attempt for Adelson to try to legislate away a perceived threat to his brick-and-mortar casino empire. As readers of this site well know, Adelson has donated millions upon millions of dollars to Republican political candidates over the years; he has supported Chaffetz along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC), who introduced RAWA in the Senate, and presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R – FL), who has also come out in favor of RAWA.
Chaffetz has made quite a name for himself putting together farcical Congressional hearings, highlighted by his last online gambling hearing in March. It looks like this week’s hearing might be a little different, as the witness panel seems to be more mixed.
One witness, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, is decidedly in the pro-RAWA camp, in lock-step with Chaffetz. Wilson was the co-author of a petition that was recently circulated to the other Attorneys General in the US asking them to get onboard and urge Congress to support RAWA. He couldn’t be any more anti-online gambling. Fortunately, he wasn’t very successful, getting just eight AG’s total to sign, down from 15 last year.
Donald Kleine, Douglas County (Nebraska) attorney, is a bit of a mystery, as there isn’t much out there in the media ether to indicate that he has ever had much of an opinion on online gambling. He has prosecuted some illegal online gambling cases, but that’s about it. There’s a good chance he is also on Chaffetz’s side, as there has to be a reason he is a witness. Nebraska’s Attorney General Doug Peterson signed the RAWA petition, so it is possible Kleine has some relationship with him.
Nevada State Senator Mark Lipparelli would appear to be a pro-online gambling, or at least a pro-regulation, witness. Lipparelli is the former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and worked on constructing the state’s online gambling regulations, so he certainly brings a point of view that was sorely missing from the last hearing. He has also served as an executive and board member of several technology companies involved in the gaming space.
In June, Lipparelli was named Compliance Committee Chairman of Interblock, a developer of electronic table gaming products. If anyone knows anything about online gaming regulation, it’s him.
In May 2014, Lipparelli Tweeted, “There are 50 million 20-somethings in the US. The iPhone is 7 years old. Should we be debating legislation to outlaw online gaming?” which makes him sound anti-online gambling, but everything else he has done or said points to him being firmly against RAWA.
The fourth and final member of the panel is Joseph Campbell, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. One would think that Chaffetz would pepper him with questions about online gambling being a vehicle for terrorists to launder money, but one would also think that there’s a good chance that he will remain neutral and use facts and experience to answer questions rather than play into any fear-based tactics Chaffetz might employ.