Fireworks may erupt at an online gambling hearing set before a House subcommittee tomorrow as pro and anti-gambling proponents have been invited to provide testimony.
The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will review “The State of Online Gaming” beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10. The witness list has been released and as reported by PokerUpdate last Friday, Sheldon Adelson’s voice will be heard at tomorrow’s sit-down.
Adelson, the casino mogul who has riches of about $28 billion according to the latest figures released by Forbes, is highly critical of online gambling regulation. He has vowed to fight the spread of Internet gaming legislation throughout the U.S. and has been forming a coalition aimed at accomplishing that goal.
The Las Vegas Sands CEO won’t be stepping in front of the microphone to spew his anti-online gambling rhetoric tomorrow. That duty will fall to Andrew Abboud, the Sands’ Vice President of Government Relations and Community Development. Expect Abboud to parrot the views of Adelson as he warns committee members of the perceived dangers of legalized online gambling.
Also on the anti-gambling team will be Les Bernal, the National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling, and Rachel Volberg, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst . Bernal is opposed to the government depending on tax dollars that come from citizens who blow their hard-earned money on gambling. Volberg is widely known as an expert on problem gambling.
Testifying on behalf of player rights will be the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), John Pappas. The PPA counts its membership at over 1 million strong and has been lobbying for online poker legislation at both the federal and state levels for several years. A federal scheme is preferred, but since there has not been much movement among U.S. legislators on the issue recently, the PPA has been focusing its most recent efforts on state regulations.
Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association (AGA) president and CEO, will also speak on behalf of Internet gambling legalization. The successor to Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. has been at the helm for almost six months and has an opportunity by testifying to begin carving out an AGA legacy of his own after following in the footsteps of his highly-respected predecessor.
The last witness slated to speak will be Chapman University Law Professor Kurt Eggert. A gambling law expert, Eggert also testified before the same subcommittee two years ago. Perhaps the voice of reason among pro and anti forces, Eggert previously mentioned the need for legislation in order to protect consumers. But he also firmly believes that several troubling issues must be addressed such as safeguards to protect recreational players from those more skilled and the need to remove bots from online poker sites.
The hearing will focus on the “current regulatory landscape” with regard to online gambling. But several other issues also on the docket include whether regulation on the federal level is needed considering the fact that states are well on their way to enacting their own schemes, how Internet gambling laws are enforced in jurisdictions that are now up and running, how casino games differ from the skill required to play poker, and properly protecting consumers via regulation.
The DoJ ruling in 2011 that better clarified the intent behind the 1961 Wire Act as it pertains to society today, as well as Rep. Joe Barton’s Internet Poker Freedom Act that was introduced in July, will also be part of tomorrow’s hearing. Those interested in watching can view the proceedings via live webcast at energycommerce.house.gov.