The House Has RAWA Hearing
It finally happened. After skipping 2014 altogether and having multiple delays in 2015, the House has finally given RAWA its hearing. The hearing itself didn’t go as well as RAWA supporters hoped it would, which is great news.
The support for legalization came quickly. Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), stated that “states should be allowed to decide this question for themselves, and we should not take any action that would overturn such state laws,” which is what a lot of supporters have called for. Texas Republican Ted Poe seemed to concur, stating that banning Internet gaming could create a black market for online gambling or force Internet gambling offshore.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was aware of this stance, and prior to the meeting, stated that the RAWA was actually a pro-states’ rights bill, stating that the gambling ban protected the rights of states to prevent gambling within their borders.
“It’s important for states such as Utah and Hawaii, where we have no gaming, to have the ability to protect ourselves from something that we would not like to see within our borders,” said Chaffetz.
According to sources, the experts that testified at the RAWA session – John Kindt, a professor at the University of Illinois School of Law; Les Bernal, the national director of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation; and Michael Fagan, an adjunct professor at the Washington University School of Law – did little to convince any of the members that attended the meeting.
As previously mentioned, RAWA is now seen by top officials to be mostly a self-serving bill. They realize the profits legalized online gambling can bring and how no deposit bonuses can reach a demographic that land-based casinos couldn’t, and they want a piece of that large financial pie.
After that embarrassing showing, should Chaffetz continue to go forward with the RAWA bill, they need to schedule a markup of the bill, vote it out of the committee, and send it to the full House. There’s no time limit this time around, so the pressure that Sheldon Adelson felt to get the bill heard and passed within a certain amount of time is gone.
However, that means very little in today’s world. Adelson’s chief lobbyist Andy Abboud remained optimistic, stating that the relaxed timeframe would bode well for RAWA. That’s not the case at all, however, and the more time that goes by, the more people are realizing that online gambling isn’t this evil hobby that people make it out to be, and it’s actually benefitting a lot of users, as well as their community.
It won’t be surprising if they continue to push forward with RAWA, but honestly, this was the best possible outcome that we could’ve hoped for. They didn’t have many facts, they were called out for possibly wanting to violate states’ rights, and their experts didn’t convince anyone of anything. Though it’s far from dead, RAWA is no longer the looming threat that it once was.