Presidential Candidates Mum About Internet Gambling

This year American voters will go to the polls in November to elect a president and members of congress. In the presidential race online gambling has taken a back seat to other more pressing issues such as the economy, unemployment, wars in the Middle East, fiscal policies and other important issues. Many internet bingo players and casino players are probably wondering which presidential candidate and party best represents their interests. Unfortunately both presidential candidates have been mum when it comes to online gambling and people can only speculate based on past statements and actions.

Many see the Republicans as less sympathetic to the interests of online gamers. By and large it was Republican members of congress that were responsible for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona was one of the chief architects of the bill which was tacked onto a must pass port security bill without the knowledge of other members of congress.  A later poll showed that most congressmen would not have voted for UIGEA as a standalone piece of legislation. This created the perception that Republicans are against gambling which is not entirely true.

GOP candidate Romney approved expanded gambling when he was governor of Massachusetts. Governor Romney voiced support for slots parlors to address a $3 billion budget shortfall. He later opposed the slot machines saying that Massachusetts no longer had to suffer the social costs of expanded gambling. Earlier in the year Romney told the Las Vegas Sun that he would clarify his stance on internet gambling but so far has failed to make any statement about internet gambling. Some political analysts believe that Romney’s Mormon religion puts him in a “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” position regarding internet gambling. If Romney comes out in favor of internet gambling he faces the disapproval of his church and social conservatives. If he rejects internet gambling he faces the opposition of moderates and Libertarians in his own party.

In 2008 many online gamblers saw Obama as more sympathetic to their interests. Later the Obama Justice Department took a hard line against internet gambling and seizes four poker sites and one internet bingo site. If the economy continues to slow both candidates will face pressure from states eager to tap into the revenues that internet gaming could provide. Nelson Rose, a Whittier College law professor who specializes in gaming issues stated “The president and Congress are going to be faced with proposals both to legalize every form of gambling and also outlaw all the gambling.” Gambling interests need to ask more questions to determine which candidate would best serve the interests of those who choose to play internet bingo and casino games on the net.