A hearing next week before a House subcommittee that will analyze the current online gambling regulatory landscape will likely take into account the anti-Internet gambling stance of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Poker Players Alliance (PPA) VP of player relations Rich Muny stated on his weekly update on the PPA website that Adelson’s coalition formed to persuade U.S. lawmakers not to enact online gambling legislation “are lobbying hard for state and federal bans on online poker.” Muny expects the voice of that opposition to “be at the hearing in full force, opposing our right to play at every turn.”
The House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee formed under the House Energy & Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on “The State of Online Gaming” for Tuesday, December 10, 2013 and have rescheduled the start time to 12:30 p.m. Those interested in watching the proceedings can do so via live webcast at energycommerce.house.gov.
An expert witness list of those on the docket to provide testimony has not been announced as of this writing. But Muny has confirmed that the PPA is one of the invitees. The task of testifying will likely be handled by PPA executive director John Pappas. It is not known if Adelson will testify, or if that duty will fall to one of his minions.
Muny points out that previous online gambling hearings have been on the short end of exciting, but anticipates Tuesday’s sit-down to be “hotly contested.” The reason for that is the anti-online gambling crowd led by Adelson will likely be allowed to spew their rhetoric opposing Internet poker and gambling legislation.
Adelson’s latest rant was an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal published on Dec. 1 in which the 80-year-old cited a recent survey indicating that “a majority of Americans are in favor of ‘live’ casino gaming,” but that “more than 70 percent disapprove of Internet gambling.”
He then goes on to attack Internet technology and accuses online gambling proponents of being hypocritical, seemingly as a defense against those who call him a hypocrite for making a fortune from casino gambling but opposing any forms of regulated wagering via the Internet. Adelson chairs the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates land-based gaming establishments worldwide.
“So let me get this straight,” Adelson wrote. “Proponents say that technology exists to effectively regulate Internet gambling to stop minors, addicted gamblers, money launderers and organized crime from accessing it. But the technology does not exist to block the unscrupulous foreign websites from targeting those same audiences. Apparently, the technology exists to serve the needs of Internet gambling proponents, but doesn’t exist to serve the needs of those of us who oppose it.”
Adelson appears in 11th place on Forbes’ most recent posting of the wealthiest Americans. He has vowed to spend whatever it takes to sway U.S. lawmakers to view online gambling as the same scourge on society as does he. The outspoken gambling magnate allegedly spent millions backing the Republican party in the 2012 election and his pockets may be just as deep regarding his anti-online gambling stance.
Tuesday’s subcommittee agenda includes discussions concerning the ruling made by the DoJ two years ago that found the 1961 Wire Act to pertain only to sports betting. That reinterpretation allowed individual states to legislate online poker and gambling at the state level in the absence of a federal plan. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have been first in line to aggressively enact statutes as a result of the DoJ’s clarification.
Also to be debated at the online gambling hearing is Texas Rep. Joe Barton’s Internet Poker Freedom Act. Barton introduced the proposal in July that seeks to allow online poker while tightening restrictions against Internet casino games. Barton correctly points out in HR 2666 that poker is based on skill and should be legislated as such, apart from gambling that is based on chance when playing casino games such as blackjack, craps, slots and roulette.