Online Poker Advocates Should Only Fear One Remaining Presidential Candidate

February 23, 2016
Online Poker Advocates Should Only Fear One Remaining Presidential Candidate

When the 2016 presidential race began, there were quite a few anti-online gambling candidates on the stage, particularly on the Republican side.

Of the two dozen candidates on both sides of the aisle, roughly 33 percent seemed to publicly support a federal online gambling ban — some more than others.

At the top of the “we hate online gambling” list were a pair of Restoration of America’s Wire Act sponsors, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

You also had two former governors running for president in 2016 who expressed their support for RAWA in official letters while in office: former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Another clearly anti-online gambling candidate in the field was former Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) co-chair, and former New York Governor George Pataki. CSIG is the lobbying arm pushing for Sheldon Adelson’s federal online gaming ban.

Two other candidates likely to be frothing at the mouth to ban online gambling are the ultra conservative Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Huckabee was a willing participant in a schmooze fest with CSIG co-chair Blanche Lincoln on his FOX News show.

And to top it all off, there was Jeb Bush, who proved to be quite opposed to gambling during his time as the governor of Florida.

Fortunately, as the field has been winnowed to seven candidates, only one of these anti-online gambling candidates remains. Unfortunately, the lone candidate pushing for a federal online gambling ban is one of the GOP frontrunners.

A quick look at the other remaining candidates

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, like most Democrats, doesn’t really seem to make any strong statements when it comes to gambling, and it’s doubtful any opposition the Vermont senator might harbor towards gambling would extend to online gambling issues at the federal level.

Hillary Clinton

Like Sanders, Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to think gambling falls under the purview of the federal government, and has never really voiced an opinion on this issue one way or another. However, I would stop short of calling this indifference, as it’s more of a non-pressing issue, and likely something neither candidate has given much thought.

John Kasich

A long shot candidate, Kasich seems to harbor the same indifference to gambling at the federal level as the Democratic candidates. Kasich’s stance is likely moot, as he’s unlikely to secure the Republican nomination.

Ben Carson

Another long shot candidate, Dr. Ben Carson’s state’s rights philosophy would seem to fly in the face of federal intervention on an issue like this. Like Kasich, Carson’s point of view on federal gambling bans is probably meaningless, as he’s the least likely candidate to win the nomination.

Donald Trump

The idea that Donald Trump would crack down on online gambling seems unlikely. What makes this even more unlikely is Trump isn’t beholden to any billionaire mega-donors who are pushing for an online gambling ban, and he’s unlikely to even entertain the idea of a ban.

Trump could very well be the only pro-online gambling candidate left in the race, but like the others, his viewpoints on this issue haven’t been fully fleshed out.

Ted Cruz

Cruz has been able to maintain his Tea Party bona fides by never being overtly hypocritical on his “small federal government” ideals, and a small government conservative coming out in favor of a national online gambling ban would be just that.

So, when it comes to online gambling, a President Cruz (yeah, I just shuddered a bit too) would likely veto any such legislation landing on his desk based on his principles.

And then there is Marco Rubio…

Rubio is making a serious push for the 2016 Republican nomination, and if Rubio does secure the nomination, it’s quite likely he will make a serious push for an online gambling ban for several reasons.

First, Rubio is historically anti-gambling, and never without a harsh word for the vice.

Rubio is a confirmed RAWA supporter, as he added his name to the list of RAWA cheerleaders in Congress, when he, along with Graham, co-sponsored the 2015 Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

Rubio is also the most likely choice to be Sheldon Adelson’s candidate, if he can prove to the Republican mega-donor that he can in fact win the nomination.

If Rubio continues to gain momentum, and weaves his way through the Republican field, it could be a very bad sign for online gambling in the United States.

Joseph Sohm /

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