Biased Witnesses Give Testimony at RAWA Hearing

Published March 31, 2015 by Elana K

Biased Witnesses Give Testimony at RAWA Hearing

Anti-gambling witnesses at RAWA hearing resort to fear-mongering to prove their points, with little facts to confuse them.

This past Wednesday marked the first hearing on RAWA, the Restoration of America's Wire Act , a bill that would make online gambling illegal in the United States on a federal level. The hearing was held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and was prompted by Sheldon Adelson, the most outspoken opponent of online gambling in the country.

Three Against Gambling

John Kindt, professor emeritus of Business Administration at the University of Illinois School of Law and a long-time critic of online gambling, quoted weary cliches such as, "click your phone, lose your home" and "click your mouse, lose your house.” Not only did Kindt argue against online gambling, but he argued for even stricter provisions not included in RAWA.

Les Bernal, national director of Stop Predatory Gambling, sought to preemptively answer two claims: that RAWA will trample on state rights, and that banning online gambling will just drive people to illegal sites.

“If not the federal government,” Bernal said, “who will step in to protect the rights of individuals against these practices by an active, predatory state?” He continued to say that regulation won’t stop illegal gambling, and thus, no regulation should be passed.

The third witness in the hearing was former U.S. Assistant Attorney Michael Fagan, who cited reports of Internet gambling being used to finance terrorism. What Fagan did not note was that these reports were actually from unregulated markets!

He also cited that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) reinterpretation of the Wire Act in 2011 had ulterior motives, a fact that seems somewhat irrelevant to the conversation. 

Two Constitutional Witnesses

The other two witnesses were more subjective on the issue of RAWA. These were WiredSafety executive director Parry Aftab and R Street Institute executive director Andrew Moylan. Aftab said that the regulation of online gambling in the United States will better protect American citizens, and that there is certainly the technology to prevent minors from using the sites. Moylan argued that RAWA is very problematic for states' rights. 

All Opposed

The congressmen in attendance were mostly anti-online gambling, with few exceptions. Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, sponsor of the bill, was present, as well as Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte, who said that online gambling can lead to suicide. On a brighter note, Rep. Ted Poe of Texas Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas both expressed concern over states’ rights.

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