Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rewriting America’s Wire Act?

This is not going where you think it is.

Over the past couple of weeks we in the iGaming/iPoker advocacy arena have been transfixed with a lot of activity that has promise or potential.  Bills and hearings in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and (yet again) California are moving forward, but very few hold out hope that we’ll see more than the same three states with iGaming (NJ, NV, and DE) by the end of the year.  Not so much because the cause is not just of the fight engaged, but because it’s an election year.  That’s a tough row to hoe.

There’s also new activity on the anti-iGaming front, as Sheldon Adelson’s deadly minion Lindsey “Back-Door” Graham has inserted some trickery into a must-pass Senate Appropriations Bill.  Shades of 2006’s UIGEA (no hearings, no votes, just insert here when no one is looking), this move appears to have about as much chance of occurring as California’s iPoker bill, which is to say not likely (thanks to increased diligence on the part of PPA and poker players everywhere – thank you).

And in DFS-land, Congress held a ho-hum hearing that moved the issue neither here nor there.  This is one online activity the AGA takes an interest in (only to ensure that broader sports-betting issues are included), and, of course, states are taking issue/license (no pun) with DFS as well.  Some are banning it, some are licensing it, and many are in discussion as what to do about it (more states involved with DFS than with traditional iGaming, sadly).

But there was one other bit of new legislation proposed recently that caught my eye favorably, received little attention, and yet…the more I think about it, the more troubling the whole thing became.  In Nevada, the Nevada Gaming Commission might consider changes to their mobile sports betting regulations that would have a PROFOUND (emphasis mine) effect on all of the above – iPoker, iGaming, DFS, and RAWA.

The article in question (here) caught my eye because of the phrase “Bettors in the 49 states outside of Nevada might be able to set up and fund mobile sports betting apps from Las Vegas casinos as early as this year (emphasis from the story).

ALL states?  Even my state (Oregon)?  Even Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s state (Utah)?

Yup.  Sports betting is growing by leaps and bounds in Nevada, and mobile sports betting is a big reason for it.  As I mentioned above, the AGA has shown a desire to push the envelope to start a dialogue to get people talking to
“…review the effectiveness of America’s 25-year-old federal sports betting ban in light of growing public acceptance of gaming in general, the soaring interest in sports betting in particular and the development of new technologies that can aid law enforcement in overseeing betting activities.

They were referring specifically to PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), not the wire act.  The new Nevada regs would still require (for now) the individual to actually travel (once) to Nevada to set up the account, and all wagering must still be done (for now) in Nevada.  But here’s where it gets interesting…

The new regs are being championed by CGTechnology.  If that name doesn’t ring a bell, I’ll remind you that they are a leading gaming technology company, specializing in sports book mobile sports-betting apps featured at several Nevada casinos. 

Including The Venetian and The Palazzo.  Owned by you-know-who.

What if Little Johnny gets ahold of Dad's tablet?  Oh, right...

Remember, the Wire Act was written way back in the 60’s to deal with sports betting.

Remember, Sheldon Adelson wants to “restore” the wire act so that ALL Internet gaming is prohibited – even that which is regulated by the states.

Remember, even if RAWA became a reality, it would still ALLOW some Internet wagering – horse racing (which last time I looked was still a sport), perhaps DFS, perhaps some lotteries…and maybe mobile sports betting?

Does Sheldon know that the technology for a “phone app for sports betting” and a “phone app for iPoker” use the SAME technology?

Are the new Nevada sports betting regs a “foot in the door” to expand further should Congress get a clue and decide to modify draconian gambling laws like PASPA and UIGEA?

Is this a case of Sheldon trying to have his cake and eat it, too?  To say “If I can’t ban it all I want to get in on it but on my terms because sports betting will be bigger than poker by 10-20 times” (and he’s probably right about that)?

I have to admit the desire to wager on sports from time to time.  There are days when I know the Lions can cover the spread and something I read in one of Nolan Dalla or Earl Burton’s columns makes me want to grab a sawbuck and go for it.  But I can’t, because I don’t live anywhere near Nevada.  An online/mobile sports betting app would be WONDERFUL, though I rather shit my pants in public or slide down a 45-foot razor blade than have an account with The Venetian.  But still…

So I am crazy to see this as something sinister and sneaky?  Or have I just been watching too much political news reporting?

What’s your thought on all of this? 
Hey, it could be worse.

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