Adelson’s anti-online gambling bill to get House committee hearing on Dec. 9

adelson-anti-online-gambling-house-hearingLas Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson may be Jewish, but Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) just gave him an early Christmas present all the same.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform confirmed the scheduling of a hearing for Dec. 9 at 1pm ET to discuss one of Adelson’s pet peeves: online gambling. The not-at-all pejorative title of the hearing? “A Casino in Every Smartphone – Law Enforcement Implications.”

(The smartphone reference suggests the title may have been written by Adelson’s political point man Andy Abboud, who has yet to attend one of these hearings without whipping out his iPhone and claiming it’s a casino.)

Chaffetz, who chairs the committee, introduced the House version of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in February. The Adelson-backed RAWA seeks to ban most forms of online gambling in the US by undoing the 2011 Department of Justice opinion on the scope of the 1961 Wire Act. RAWA’s passage would put the kibosh on the three states – Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – that have already commenced intrastate play and prevent any other states from joining the party.

The committee has yet to release a list of witnesses who will offer testimony at next Wednesday’s hearing, but given the farcical March hearing on the same subject by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, one can expect a fact-free extravagongshow of disbelief, disinformation and disingenuousness.

That March hearing featured a bevy of witnesses associated with the Adelson-funded Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), all of whom were allowed to spout comically false assertions without any pushback from Adelson’s rent-a-pols on the dais.

In stark contrast, the witnesses who offered verifiable data debunking the CSIG claims were subjected to thinly disguised contempt from Chaffetz & Co, who proudly upheld the modern GOP tradition of heaping derision on individuals who dare display technical knowledge superior to their own.

Given the law enforcement theme of next week’s hearing, one might expect an appearance by Chris Koster or Alan Wilson, the state Attorneys General of Missouri and South Carolina (respectively), who recently mailed a chain letter to their counterparts in other states, asking them to show their RAWA support by adding their John Hancocks.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who announced last week that he’d sign the letter, may be a surer bet to show at the hearing. Laxalt, a political neophyte whose surprise 2014 election victory was bankrolled by Adelson, is catching hell from Nevada’s governor and other gaming industry stakeholders over his RAWA stance, but Laxalt understands whose knife buttered his bread.

It’s worth noting that a similar chain letter in 2014 garnered the signatures of around 15 AGs, while Laxalt would be only the third to sign on this time around, suggesting even RAWA supporters understand the bill has little chance of passage. Yet the dog and pony show continues.