RAWA Hearing Lacks Relevant Testimony From Gambling Regulators

How To Hold A Congressional Hearing On Regulating Online Gambling Without Inviting Anyone Who Regulates Online Gambling

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The recent House hearing for HR 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), featured testimony from:

Oddly absent from the witness list for a hearing ostensibly focused on gathering the facts about regulated online gambling: any individual with direct experience in the regulation of said activity.

Committee sought answers witnesses couldn’t provide

As the largest state with regulated online gambling, New Jersey is at the vanguard of application of all the contested technologies – geolocation, age verification, identity verification, AML controls – referenced at the RAWA hearing.

Accordingly, David Rebuck, Director of the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, is the most obvious and indispensable expert on the subject at the heart of the hearing.

As qualified as the invited witnesses may be in their respective fields, none of them are properly credentialed to speak directly to those technologies in the abstract, let alone in terms of practical deployment.

But Director Rebuck’s review of the first year of regulated online gambling in New Jersey provides direct, credible, fact-based answers to many of the questions raised at the House hearing regarding the technology undergirding regulated online gambling that went unanswered – or were answered incorrectly.

So what does it say about the true purpose – and credibility – of the hearing that Rebuck wasn’t invited?

Witnesses with regulatory insight not in short supply

The list of witnesses who would have grounded the hearing in realism instead of rhetoric extends well beyond Director Rebuck and his staff at the DGE:

  • A.G. Burnett, Chairman of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board. As the individual responsible for overseeing regulated Nevada online gaming and the nation’s single largest land-based gambling market, Chairman Burnett (or any member of the GCB) would be uniquely qualified to speak to the facts of regulated online gambling.
  • Vernon Kirk, Director of the Delaware Lottery. Kirk has overseen the launch of online poker and online casino games tied to the lottery and commercial casinos in Delaware. Questions about the viability of identity verification systems – and what, if any, success has been found in circumventing those systems – would have been better posed to Director Kirk than a witness (Kindt) whose primary cited evidence regarding verification technology dates from 1999.
  • Richard Schuetz, Commissioner, California Gambling Control Commission. Schuetz has spent years studying the global online gambling industry as California prepares to consider regulation of online poker. His office has interviewed dozens of individuals and amassed a substantial, objective body of knowledge regarding the industry and the technology surrounding it.

That’s to say nothing of:

  • Officials from states with online lottery sales.
  • Officials from any of the nearly three dozen states that allow online horse betting.
  • Officials from states like Pennsylvania that are considering regulating online gambling.
  • Officials from jurisdictions like the United Kingdom and Australia with decades of combined experience in regulating online gambling with massive consumer and financial volume.
  • Experts from related, but peripheral industries (e.g., banking, ecommerce) who could speak to the efficacy of generalized geolocation and identity verification technologies.

Instead of any of these voices, voters were offered a panel with exactly zero hours of applied, professional experience dealing specifically with the regulation of U.S. online gambling.

Watch video of RAWA hearing

Watch the hearing for yourself – especially the second segment, which is heavy on the Q&A – and decide for yourself if the proceedings would have benefited from the presence of someone with practical experience.

Segment 1: Hearing begins at 01:28:30

Segment 2: Hearing begins at 00:28:40.

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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