Where Presidential contenders stand on online poker

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jan 11, 2012 Posted in Legal Poker News, Op-Ed | 1 Comment »

Even though none of the current candidates for President of the United States have expressed their stance on online gaming (namely poker) some information on how they might pursue online poker legislation can be gleaned from their supporters and donors. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was an advocate for online poker, but he has dropped out of the race after being pushed aside by the Republican party (he now supports Ron Paul).

For some candidate we can infer their positions based on their records and stances: Paul’s Libertarian bent means he would be favorable to online poker; Rick Perry and Rick Santorum are both staunch social conservatives making online gambling legislation unlikely to pass their desk without receiving a veto; and Mitt Romney probably has several interesting stances on the topic!

For the other candidates it’s a little harder to figure out where they would come down without looking at their supporters and surrogates. For instance, one of John Huntsman’s top surrogates is former Pennsylvania Governor of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Ridge also happens to be a member of the pro-online gaming group FairPlay USA’s board. So despite Huntsman’s Mormon beliefs regarding gambling, from his associations as well as his commitment to not govern based on his religion it’s a fairly safe bet that he will be a friendly force in the White House should he get the Republican nomination.

On the other side of the coin is Newt Gingrich. According to reports on MSNBC, Gingrich’s Super-Pac received a $5 million donation from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a staunch opponent of online gaming. The MSNBC reports went on to say that Adelson may potentially donate upwards of $20 million to the Gingrich Super-Pac when all is said and done –Adelson is listed as the eighth richest man in America with a net worth in the neighborhood of $20 billion.

You may recall that not too long ago Adelson was quoted as saying that he was “morally Opposed” to online poker (yes, he said he was morally opposed to online gambling while making truckloads of cash running land-based casinos from Las Vegas to Macau). Many see Adelson’s opposition to online gaming as a necessity, considering his company, Las Vegas Sands, is far behind their competitors in developing online software or partnering with an existing site. Here is a look at his full quote to ggbnews.com and you can decide for yourself:

“Officially, I’m neutral,” Adelson told Global Gaming Business. “Unofficially, I am vehemently against it because I am convinced that the technology that would prevent kids from gambling isn’t enough. I see from my own young children, that they know how to get around all the restrictions that any techie is going to install to prevent kids from playing. I am not as concerned with young adults, I’m concerned about children, under-aged children.”

Adelson then went on to make a SMH comment, claiming that the $440 million PokerStars made at their peak simply wasn’t worth his time:

“PokerStars is the biggest and most successful online gaming entity in the world,” said Adelson, “and the most they made in a year was $440 million. Now, how is $440 million divided up amongst several other players going to make a difference? It ain’t going far.”

Now, it’s likely that Adelson’s crusade against online poker is a bit farther down on his priority list than say his hard-line views of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict or his pro-China stances, but donations in the 8-figure range probably cover more than one-specific issue at the end of the day!

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One Response to “Where Presidential contenders stand on online poker”

  1. Wes says:

    I have no idea what Sheldon Adelson is thinking. He obviously has the funds to get involved in online gambling and it’s clear he has no moral opposition to gambling. It makes no sense for him to be against online gambling.

    I mean, he’s clearly a huge hypocrite claiming to be morally opposed to online gambling, but there still has to be more to the story than that.

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