RAWA Hearing Postponed – iPoker Only Bill Filed in Pennsylvania

Congress SnowThe congressional hearing to debate the Restoration of America’s Wire Act has been temporarily placed on hold. This unlikely delay will temporarily slow down the advance of the bill as lawmakers try to determine whether to ban online gambling in the United States.

Meanwhile, a second online gambling bill has been filed in Pennsylvania but this time it only covers online poker. HB 695 is already under consideration but the new filing would narrow the scope of online gambling to iPoker only.

Hearing on RAWA Delayed Due to Inclement Weather

Online poker lobbyist got an unlikely ally in their fight to stop the hearing on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act – Mother Nature. On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Thursday’s congressional hearing on HR 707, aka RAWA, was being delayed due to expected inclement weather. Up to a foot of snow is expected in the Northern VA / Washington D.C. area and leaders decided to delay the hearing.

Thursday’s hearing was to be a first step towards a potential vote on the matter. The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations was to host the hearing, one that is expected to be heavily skewed against online gambling.

Among those witnesses are Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling and Washington University – St. Louis Law School Professor Mike Fagan. Both are staunch opponents of online gambling and will probably give the most levelheaded debate against the issue.

A new date for the hearing has yet to be set, but there’s nothing to suggest it won’t happen. This is merely a delay and not a complete cancellation.

“Online Poker Only” Bill Filed In Pennsylvania

A second online gambling bill has been filed in the Pennsylvania state legislature, but this time around only online poker is covered. State Rep. Nick Miccarelli has filed HB 695, basically a reintroduction of HB 2297 from 2014. His bill is a poker-only bill, meaning that all other forms of gambling would remain unregulated should it passed.

This bill is significantly different from HB 649 that is currently in play in the state legislature. Besides only covering online poker, it is devoid of any language authorizing interstate compacts. Without this language, online poker would be confined to Pennsylvania only, a prospect that many agree would be detrimental long-term to the industry.

Also, the bill includes a bad actor clause barring any companies from operating in the state that took bets in the U.S. after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). HB 649 is devoid of any bad actor clause and many feel that it would put the state on the fast track to bringing PokerStars back to the United States.

In a memo released in early February, Miccarelli stated why he stuck to an online-poker only bill. According to his memo, ” Poker is unlike banking games in many respects that make it best for the introduction of interactive gaming. Poker operators are not participants in the games and are indifferent as to the outcome.”