Late last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas was slated to have a debate against a representative from Sheldon Adelson's Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG). The problem was Adelson's camp pulled a no-show.
Las Vegas Sands Vice President of Government Relations Andy Abboud was expected to represent Adelson's interest in the debate, 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?", but when the scheduled time rolled around neither he nor any other CSIG representative could be found.
"I guess when the rubber meets the road, prohibition supporters realize they can’t backup their fear-mongering PR campaign with actual facts," Pappas said in a PPA press release. "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 (RAWA), I think American voters deserve to hear both sides clearly articulate how such a ban impacts consumers, states and the economy."
As of yet there has been no official explanation for Abboud's absence, but online poker advocates speculate that he likely didn't want to subject himself to the sort of embarrassment he experienced in a Dec. 2013 congressional hearing and few months later when he debated Mitch Garber, CEO and Director of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, at the fourth annual iGaming North America at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. It was at the latter debate noted poker historian Nolan Dalla believed Abboud "melted down completely."
"The fact that the primary RAWA supporters refused to join this debate, after significant effort by the organizers, tells me that they want their bill rubberstamped instead of openly debated on the merits – a basic tenet of democracy," Pappas concluded.
The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations will hold a hearing on RAWA on Thursday, March 5th.
Photo c/o Wikimedia Commons.