The Poker Players Alliance, the grassroots non-profit advocacy group devoted to championing the rights of poker players in the United States, has launched a petition against the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).
The Sheldon Adelson-backed bill that seeks to prohibit all online gaming on a federal level, with the exception of horseracing and fantasy sports, was reintroduced to Congress by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in early February.
RAWA specifically wants to overturn the 2011 legal opinion by the Department of Justice, which asserted that the Wire Act only prohibits sports betting over the internet, effectively opening the door to the state-by-state regulation of online poker and casino games.
If RAWA were passed into law it would dismantle the regulatory efforts of the three states that have so far legalized online gambling, as well as the numerous states that have legislated to permit online lottery sales.
RAWA Hearing This Week
The bill remains a longshot for Chaffetz and its supporters, and is a deeply mistrusted piece of legislation on Capitol Hill, because of the perceived cronyism of its origins and its determination to interfere with states’ rights. However the PPA is taking no chances: the bill is due to receive a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations later this week and the PPA is eager to galvanize some grassroots opposition.
“We the undersigned oppose federal efforts to ban Internet poker across America,” begins the petition, which is entitled All In for Liberty. “In doing so, Congress would trample on the personal liberties of adult Americans while simultaneously stripping states of their Tenth Amendment right to governance within their respective borders.”
It goes on to decry RAWA as an attack on Internet freedom, personal liberties and consumer protection.
How to Get Involved
The PPA is also asking poker players to take action ahead of the hearing, scheduled for Thursday March 5, by calling or tweeting Committee members to make their feelings known. “The opponents of your freedom to play online, led by casino magnate billionaire Sheldon Adelson, have stacked the deck for this hearing,” says the PPA website. “They have loaded the witness panel with anti-poker zealots who have no real world knowledge of how Internet poker works.”
A list of the Committee members, which includes Chaffetz, along with their contact details, are available at theppa.org/fight-hr707. Meanwhile, to sign the petition go to: http://theppa.org/cpac/petition/.
RAWA Supporters Skip Debate
The PPA recently criticized RAWA’s supporters for failing to engage in an open debate on the issue of online gambling, despite repeated requests from the organizers. The debate, “Full House Whose Got the Winning Hand?” was part of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference held in Washington DC last week.
“The fact that the primary RAWA supporters refused to join this debate, after significant effort by the organizers, tells me that they want their bill rubberstamped instead of openly debated on the merits; a basic tenet of democracy,” said PPA president John Pappas.