Written By Carla Harris
The recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was meant to see two sides of the online gambling legalisation issue in America square off in a debate, but the team of online gambling’s opponents simply didn’t pitch up.
The two organisations that were meant to go head to head at the CPAC conference, a political conference for conservative activists and elected officials, were the self-explanatory Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). The former, an organisation bankrolled by the hugely contraversial casino magnate and Republican Party mega-donor, Sheldon Adelson, supports a bill which would effectively cement the illegal status of online gambling across the United States, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The 81-year-old Adelson has made little secret of his dislike for the very concept of gambling online and has rallied an unlikely alliance of conservative groups with the formation of CSIG, consisting of many organisations which seem outwardly opposed to gambling in its entirety.
PPA Executive Director John Pappas was present at the CPAC event to defend online gambling and relaxing the current prohibition in all but a handful of states. The debate was titled “Full House: Whose Got the Winning Hand? A Debate on Internet Freedom and the 10th Amendment: Should Congress Shut Down State-Authorized Gambling Websites?” However nobody from the other side of the debate, representing Adelson’s CSIG, made an appearance. Las Vegas Sands Vice President of Government Relations, Andy Abboud, was meant to be in attendence but as the scheduled time came and went there was no sign of him or anyone else to speak on behalf of the CSIG. Of course the debate had to be cancelled.
Pappas released a statement soon after in which he said, “I guess when the rubber meets the road prohibition supporters realize they can’t backup their fear-mongering PR campaign with actual facts. I was looking forward to an open and fair debate on the future of online gaming, and not just because the facts are on our side. Before Congress votes on any legislation that would impose a broad prohibition, like the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, I think American voters deserve to hear both sides clearly articulate how such a ban impacts consumers, states and the economy.” He added that the fact primary RAWA supporters refused to join the debate indicated to him that they want the bill rubberstamped without having to debate its merits.