GOP Hypocritical Online Gambling Position Contradicts States’ Rights Platform

April 7, 2014
GOP Hypocritical Online Gambling Position Contradicts States’ Rights Platform

The Republican Party has demonstrated how important states’ rights are.  Obamacare is the most outspoken example of this.  Education is another topic where the GOP has opposed federal interference with what the party considers a 10th Amendment issue.

It seems that gambling, something always considered to fall under states’ rights, has left the Republican Party contradicting itself.

Senator Lindsey Graham has repeatedly published his opposition to Obamacare, often calling healthcare a state issue.  He even created the website that promotes an agenda “to allow states to opt-out of Obamacare”.

Senator Graham also opposes Common Core, the successor of No Child Left Behind.  This program attempts to get all states on the same level of education standards.  In a press release announcing a resolution introduced by Senator Graham, he is quoted:

In effect it is trying to force states into accepting a one-size-fits-all approach. This coercion with Common Core is another example of the federal government trampling on states’ rights.

This is humorous considering Senator Graham is trying to force states into a “one-size-fits-all approach” when it comes to gambling regulation, something historically left up to the states.

Lindsey defends this by saying, in a press release:

In 1999, South Carolina outlawed video poker and removed over 33,000 video poker machines from within its borders. Now, because of the Obama Administration’s decision, virtually any cell phone or computer can again become a video poker machine. It’s simply not right.

South Carolina had a video gaming industry that was repugnant in almost every way.  It was built on “lies, legal chicanery, and just plain crime”, according to an article published by Slate during that era.

South Carolina was littered with eyesores that were loosely described as casinos.  The Obama Administration did not do anything to force South Carolina to bring back those machines, it only gave states the right to regulate online gaming, an industry that already exists through offshore entities.  Graham’s commentary seems to suggest that he does not understand the difference or that states have the right to control and regulated gaming.

Senator Graham was the beneficiary of campaign contributions and a fundraiser from Sheldon Adelson.

Governors Jumping on the Bandwagon

Several governors have decided that they do not support the rights of state governments as it pertains to gambling.  These governors are also members of the Republican Party.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal started it all with an op-ed at  We addressed his misguided thoughts here.  While Gov. Jindal wants the feds to take away a state’s right to regulate online gambling, he opposes Obamacare on 10th Amendment grounds.  He also did not appreciate the Justice Department’s challenge of his state’s school voucher system.

It has been widely reported that Gov. Jindal is considering a 2016 presidential run.

Texas Governor Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry wrote a letter to Congress stating that he does not feel states are capable of regulating online gambling.  Without citing any examples, and showing a complete misunderstanding as to what the job of the DOJ is, Perry claims:

When gambling occurs in the virtual world, the ability of states to determine whether the activity should be available to its citizens and under what conditions – and to control the activity accordingly – is left subject to the vagaries of the technical marketplace.  This seriously compromises the ability of states to control gambling within their borders.  

Texas is no expert on this topic.  It has never experimented with regulating online gaming – not even horse racing – and it does not have commercial casinos or online lottery ticket sales.  Gov. Perry seems to think that since his state has never entered the marketplace, nobody should have the opportunity.

This is an interesting position considering Gov. Perry has been vocal about states’ right as they pertain to Obamacare and marijuana, among other issues.

Perry told an audience at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Committee that the federal government should “Get out of the healthcare business, get out of education”.  Perry also told the audience:

The vision that wins out — either this big-government, protectionist nanny state version offered by liberal leaders or the limited-government, unsubsidized, freedom state offered by conservative leaders — will determine the future of our nation.

It would seem that a nanny state is only OK on topics approved by Gov. Perry.  He ran in the 2012 Republican primary.  It is believed that he will give it another try in 2016.

Florida Governor Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott spoke out against online gambling last week calling for a federal ban.  This goes against his campaign promise of fighting for states’ rights by suing the federal government to limit its influence.  Gov. Scott rejected Common Core, citing “the Federal government has no constitutional authority to unilaterally set academic standards for Florida”.

Once again we have a governor that will not hesitate to accuse the federal government of trampling on states’ rights, while at the same time calling on Congress to do the same on a different topic that does not affect his state.

Florida already has one form of legalized online gambling.  Citizens may wager on horse races over the Internet via TVG.  This form of online gambling is protected by the current federal bill seeking a ban on most forms of online gambling.

Gov. Scott’s PAC received a $250,000 check from Sheldon Adelson in 2012.

States’ Rights and Internet Gambling

Every state has the right to determine whether online gambling is the right fit for its citizens without interference from the federal government.  It is not appropriate for GOP governors in the South to try and force their beliefs and those of their contributors onto others across the country.

Residents, legislators and governors in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have decided that online gambling is appropriate within those borders.  Other states have determined online lottery ticket sales and horse racing should be legal and regulated.  Many states have agreed online gambling is not appropriate. The key here is that the states decided, not the federal government.

If a state decides that online gambling should not be legal then that is its right.  Congress does not have the right to take that choice away from states.  Governors that cite states’ rights for their opposition to Obamacare and Common Core, while at the same time calling for a federal ban on other states’ rights, are hypocrites.

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