Sunday, February 22, 2015

What’s Really Wrong with RAWA

This is a serious post.  No jokes.  No comic pictures.  Granted, I was doing something frivolous this weekend when it hit me, but…I am serious.  We’ve been going at this all wrong, opposing Sheldon Adelson and his bought-and-paid-for Congressional minions and their Restore America’s Wire Act and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

We’ve been saying that their arguments are false, when, in fact, even if they were true, what they propose to do about it misses the mark.

Let me explain.

The two biggest arguments from the CSIG camp as reasons to ban online gaming are kids and terrorists.  They say: “Kids with a cellphone can get their parents’ charge cards and go crazy and lose everything.”  We say: “There are safeguards to prevent this.”  They say: “Terrorists can go online and use poker sites to launder money and conduct other nefarious criminal activity.”  We say: “There are safeguards to prevent this.”  We could also say: “This would be stupid, as currently, to play in New Jersey you have to actually be in the state of New Jersey, and how many terrorists wish to chance that?”  Of course, this leaves out domestic terrorists, but we all know how much our leaders give a rat’s ass about that.

Anyway, we go back and forth, and, for now, I want to propose a thought experiment. 

Let’s assume they’re right.

Yes, for the purpose of this demo, assume they’re correct.  Kids CAN get hold of Dad’s cellphone and Mom’s Visa and play roulette and blackjack and 7-card-stud and click on the mouse and…you know the rest.  And yes, Osama has taught his troops to play PLO and Badugi and they’ve got accounts set up to play 100-200 limit and that’s how they plan to fund their next wave of attacks.

And, more important, we assume that these problems are serious enough to shut down an entire US online industry.

So they’re right.  And it’s serious.

So the question is this – does the “Restore America’s Wire Act” solve these issues?

NO.  Not on a bet.

RAWA does NOTHING but shut down gaming sites in the U.S.  Poker and casino sites in NJ, NV, and DE, plus online lottery sales in those states offering such (MI, GA, MN, IL, plus more to come soon) would all be knocked off…but the problems of terrorists laundering money through gambling sites and kids stealing credit cards to “gamble” would still remain.

If terrorists felt the need to set up accounts to launder cash via the digital felt, there are more than a thousand sites to choose from, all around the world.  Seriously – three states in the US shut down, and suddenly we’re safe?  Get real.

And if kids are “smart enough” to steal Dad’s phone and Mom’s charge cards and get online now, how much extra effort would it take to imaging the little tykes going the extra step and accessing one of those thousand sites elsewhere?  And what stops them from going to one of the Daily Fantasy Sports sites or DerbyJackpot or XpressBet or one of the other Horse Racing sites? 

Certainly not RAWA.

No, RAWA is one of the biggest “mis-directions” in the history of our great country.  By crowing about a problem that doesn’t exist, and then proposing a solution that doesn’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist, RAWA only does one thing:  It shuts down current LEGAL and REGULATED U.S. sites – poker, casino, and lotteries.  This would cause the very budget deficits that CSIG currently spends time pissing-and-moaning about.  It would also strike a blow to those companies who have invested in online gaming technology (hint: Adelson’s competition).

To repeat:  Sheldon Adelson and CSIG have established scary-sounding problems that don’t exist, and has suggested that it’s worth killing all US Internet gambling activity to “solve” these problems.

And then, their proposed solution, RAWA, does NOTHING to solve these issues.

That’s why RAWA is so very wrong.

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