Today was the day that Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Clueless) got to hold his precious little
for Sheldon Adelson’s RAWA bill HR707 (aka Restore America’s Wire Act) in
front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform. The Hearing’s title - “A
CASINO IN EVERY SMARTPHONE – LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPLICATIONS” could have been retitled “Why not to invite witnesses who don’t
actually know much about the subject at hand.”
|Someone is not happy today. Make that "someones."|
Of course, that would have disqualified Chaffetz, but I digress. Yesterday I looked at the written statements of two of the four witnesses. Today I look at the other two statements, and a brief discussion on the actually hearing follow. Because I only saw about 20 minutes of it live thanks to a broken dishwasher, I am basing my comments on (a) what I saw and (b) mostly what others saw and wrote about. Kinda like how Chaffetz works, I know.
Joseph Campbell, the Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI was the first witness today, and frankly, I expected him to be the star witness for the prosecution…I mean, he would be an excellent expert to discuss the finer nuances of online gaming. His written statement deals harshly with illegal gambling. Not online gambling exclusively, and not LEGAL online gambling. Just illegal gambling. Illegal activity. Hence, one could conclude that, if one were taking part in a LEGAL activity (like online horse racing or one of the three states who have LEGAL online poker), then the FBI could give a shit.
From what I have gathered from the questions asked of him, Campbell stayed in this capacity when he attempted to answer questions. Which, from all reports, he failed to do much of. Provide answers, that is. He certainly provided little in the way law enforcement regarding the “implications of online gambling“ or anything like what Chaffetz and Adelson were looking for. Hee hee hee.
The fourth witness (I wrote about the other two here) was Mark Lipparelli, State Senator from Nevada, former Gaming Control Board Chairman to the Nevada Gaming Commission and heavily involved in Nevada’s implementation of online poker. His written statement is full of stuff the other three were missing…actually facts rather than speculation. In fact, his best comment was about how it’s time to move on from all that:
“The three existing US markets and several regulated markets in Canada have now applied their knowledge to actual operations and historical speculation has given way to their success and foundation knowledge.” (emphasis mine)
OK, I lied. This is even better. Later, he talks about the potential risks involved with starting online poker in Nevada, and “…that you cannot be given complete assurance that legal igaming can be properly governed.”
“However, after spending six years with experts in the field, developers of products, independent test labs and regulators from Alderney, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, France, Italy, Malta, the Isle of Man, Singapore and many others I can give you confidence that the regulated model does work.”
The little of the live hearing I was able to see involved Mr. Lipparelli and he was as bright a star answering questions as he was in his lengthy and detailed written statement (it a great read – here). He was very informative, very humble, and, even when the question was about a “fool-proof method” (to keep kids from getting a cell phone from someone not the parents and going online and losing thousands…yeah, they really were grabbing at straws here), he was direct and complete in his answers.
And let me interject something here – name me ONE thing that’s “Fool Proof,” especially anything our government oversees. Medicaid fraud, Banking regulations, Social Security scams, Agricultural subsidies…but no, we gotta make getting online and playing poker FOOL PROOF. Idiots.
Anyway, like I said earlier I only saw a bit of the show live. Much of the chatter I read seemed to imply that, with the exception of Lipparelli, the inquisitors (members of Congress) seemed to know more about the subject than the witnesses. Hat tips especially to Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), and Ted Lieu (CA).
The complete hearing in all of it’s You-Tube glory can be found here, PPA’s official take on the hearing here, and here are excellent recaps by Steve Ruddock (sort of live blogging) and Dan Cypra from PocketFives. More to come I am sure, and I’ll post ‘em on the Coalition to Counteract the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling Facebook site.
Overall, it was a pretty bad day for Sheldon Adelson. Well, LVS stock went up 2%, so there’s that, anyway.