Barton conference call underwhelms; Senate hearing witness list revealed

us-senateUS Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) held a conference call on Tuesday to talk up his recently revealed Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013. Those who were unimpressed by Barton’s second attempt at writing federal online poker legislation likely came away even less impressed with Barton’s ability to push his bill through Congress, given Barton’s admission that he has yet to discuss the bill with the two biggest online poker supporters in the Senate, Nevada’s Harry Reid and Dean Heller (although Barton claimed the pols’ staffers are in contact). Barton also revealed a degree of ignorance of the status of various state-level initiatives, such as the fact that, unlike Barton’s poker-only bill, New Jersey’s looming regulated market will allow a full range of online gambling products, including casino games.

Hopefully, the Senators conducting Wednesday’s hearing into intrastate online gambling will be a little more up to speed. The witness list for the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance hearing on “The Expansion of Internet Gambling: Assessing Consumer Protection” can be expected to provide senators with some blanket condemnation of gambling, but overall, senators will likely be told that online poker is the least of all online gambling evils, and therefore should be brought in from the regulatory cold.

Leading off the witness list is Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). In November, the FOP wrote a letter asking federal lawmakers to “modernize” the 1961 Wire Act so that law enforcement would have a clearer picture as to whose skulls they should crack to reduce online gambling’s alleged capacity to facilitate money laundering. Money laundering is also the specialty of Washington attorney Jack Blum, a former Senate investigator whose work in the 1970’s led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Also appearing will be Tom Grissen, CEO of biometrics software firm Daon Inc., who will presumably talk up technology’s ability to meet know your customer (KYC) requirements. The final witness is Matt Smith, president of the Catholic Advocate, which dedicates itself to ensuring that members of Congress don’t cast votes “against the issues and values of importance to faithful Catholics.” The group signed a joint letter last December urging Congress to pass the Reid/Kyl federal online poker bill in order to “protect our seniors, our children and give law enforcement the tools they need to protect the vulnerable from illegal predatory gambling.” Those interested in tuning into Wednesday’s hearing should refresh this link around 9:50am Eastern time to start the stream.