We went in with fear, but came out with hope: that was the sentiment of the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas.
Reflecting on last week’s hearing of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill by the House Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee, Pappas was buoyant but prefixed his remarks with a note of caution.
Despite stating that thereÂ is now a “lot of skepticism about the bill“, Pappas warned that future attempts to have RAWA passed into law were highly likely.
“I would like to say we walked out with no chance of the bill going forward. But I think there’s a significant chance that there could be another hearing or markup on the bill,” said Pappas.
Although the possibility of a markup hasn’t been discussed in great detail until now, Pappas was quick to pick up on Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D-Tex) comments that such action may be possible.
Aside from raising concerns that any internet enabled device “is a potential slot machine or roulette wheel” which could be accessed by minors, Lee suggested changes could be made to the bill as it stands.
This idea of a potential markup was echoed by Jim McTague of Barron’s. In a recent recap of the hearing, the DC-based writer hedged his bets that “the committee will mark it up by the summer’s end” which could mean RAWA is voted out of the subcommittee and into the full Judiciary Committee.
With this potential threat looming, plus that of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) pushing the bill through the senate, Pappas and the PPA are urging the community to remain vigilant and proactive. However, the current situation is a lot better than some expected the industry may have found itself in.
One of the main reasons Pappas left the hearing on a high was the continued reliance on “rhetoric” rather the “evidence” by the opposition. This point was backed up by the PPA’s Vice President of Public Relations, Rich Muny, who picked up on an issue raised but not backed up by the man who introduced the bill to the House, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
“Do you really believe a 16-year-old could not gain access to a licensed US site? It’s naive to think you can create these fictitious borders and prohibit it from coming into the state of Utah,” said Chaffetz.
He followed up these comments by suggesting he had evidence to back up his claims; unfortunately, however, he was unable to produce said evidence on the day. Had he managed that then it may have deflected attention away from evidence cited by Emeritus law professor John Warren Kindt of the University of Illinois.
Kindt has always been opposed to state-sponsored gaming in all its forms and used a 15-year-old study to back up his assertion that online gaming couldn’t be regulated successfully.
Since this “evidence” was published, countries across Europe, moreover states in the US, have not only shown that regulation is possible, but that it can be successful. However, such details don’t appear to have swayed those with long-standing issues with the industry.
Overall, the PPA believes the industry “won the battle” but insisted that the “war continues” and where the next missile will come from is unclear. Fortunately, there could be at least one positive offence for the online poker industry in the coming months.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX6), the man who took up the pro-online gaming mantle from retired Democrat Representative Barney Frank, is planning to introduce a new online poker bill to the house.
Although many believe the bill, which aims to regulate online poker on a federal level, has little chance of passing, it could force a hearing in the House. If this were to happen it could give pro-igaming experts a chance to have their say; something which wasn’t permitted during the RAWA hearing.
While this may not help bring the war to an end, it could help the industry claim another victory and move a step closer to having RAWA dismissed for good.