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    The Republican Party has officially come out against online gaming, and it has done so quite specifically.

    Posted by Marco Valerio August 29, 2012

    Newly released GOP platform explicitly calls for “reversal” of recent Wire Act interpretation, but this should not surprise, alarm or discourage the online poker community.

    Among some exceptionally tough denouncements of same-sex marriage and the right to choose, a particular excerpt from the newly released GOP platform has the online poker community in a panic. In a paragraph titled “Making the Internet Family-Friendly,” the platform reads: We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting. (You can view the whole platform here.)

    First of all, what is this platform for, and who wrote it? Roughly 200 people did, as shown in the committee credits. “Both parties routinely approve platforms at their conventions every four years, meant to encapsulate their principles and goals,” says the Associated Press, immediately adding that “much of their details are customarily ignored when it comes to actually governing.” (Emphasis mine.)

    The online gaming part we’re interested is under a sub-section about “Renewing American Values.” Most poker advocacy, especially the kind that’s actually persuading legislators, is rooted in principles of job and revenue creation and (occasionally) personal liberty, and has nothing to do with developing “healthy families, great schools and safe neighborhoods” (even though a lot of gaming tax goes to the school district). Therefore, online gaming as treated in this platform is already out of touch with the real progress that the poker community can already be proud of.

    Now let’s look at who actually wrote this nonsense. The “values” committee responsible for this part of the platform is made up of an Idaho education superintendent (Tom Luna), an Oklahoma committeewoman (Carolyn McLarty), and Georgia’s Attorney General (Sam Olens). These are probably all decent people with some local influence, but if someone like Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada – himself a speaker at the convention and a much more important Republican figure – has decided that online gaming will be good for his political career, he will not be easily talked out of it by some heartland bureaucrats.

    The singling out of a specific policy – in this case, the Wire Act – is a little odd, especially since “current laws” on things like pornography are supported in much more general terms in the same paragraph. But in their curious attempt to get specific, the authors actually end up recommending an unsound method of halting online gaming reform. The DOJ did not “decide” that the Wire Act would no longer apply to all gambling, but rather it clarified that it never did, so what the GOP really wants is not a reversal, but an unclarification. Furthemore, for anything close to this to happen, Mitt Romney would have to become president and appoint an ideological stooge as new Attorney General, something which the Senate (which has to confirm) may not let him get away with if it retains its current Democratic majority. Even then, recalling the DOJ letter would be the least of a new Attorney General’s worries, and if all goes well, online poker will be live in a state like Nevada by the time Mitt Romney would even assume office in January of next year. In summary, if the GOP really wants to stand in online gaming’s way, it should try to come up with a much more realistic strategy. This isn’t it.

    There’s a reason why political platforms are released right before an election. They have much more to do with rallying support from the electorate than with actually telling candidates how to govern, something which politicians have historically preferred to decide for themselves anyway. Right now, the Republican Party has to make sure it defeats Obama, a very liberal president, and the best way to do that is by appealing to every possible conservative sensitivity on the road to the polls. Ideologues can be counted on to vote more than moderates, and the GOP has nothing to gain right now by straddling on something as risky as online gaming. In fact, it would have been surprising if the party hadn’t stated a strong opposition to it in its platform.

    Ultimately, a two-sentence platitude in a largely nominal document by a party that hasn’t even won yet does not mean the end of online gaming in America, which will continue to be characterized by eccentric spurts of progress for the foreseeable future. Even House Speaker John Boehner, one of Sheldon Adelson’s best political buddies, has just said that he doesn’t even read the platform and doesn’t know anyone else who does.

    Despite what this overrated platform suggests, online poker remains a legitimately bipartisan cause in the real political arena, as PPA Executive Director John Pappas (himself a former GOP staffer) pointed out to Pocket Fives. There are a number of high-profile Republicans who champion greater gambling liberty – Brian Sandoval, Chris Chistie, Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., Dean Heller and Joe Barton are some of them. The poker community should keep an open mind instead of swearing to never again vote Republican in principle.

    QuadJacksWednesday, August 29, 2012

    About Marco Valerio

    View all post by Marco Valerio

    There are 3 Comments

    1. TA Miller
      - August 30, 2012
        -   Reply

      Great post, I agree with everything except for the use of the word ‘realistic’ before strategy, this strategy is not just unrealistic, it is completely untenable.

      Even betting on sporting events or contests is not a Wire Act violation when that betting is authorized by the State in which it is made and received, as evidenced by the fact that NV has intranet sports betting right now and many states allow internet betting on horseracing.

      A reversal of the DOJ position on the Wire Act could only effect unauthorized (e.g. offshore) internet gambling if a Romney Attorney General were to attempt to use the Wire Act against internet gambling other than sports betting.

    2. - August 30, 2012
        -   Reply

      This is certainly not the death knell of our fight. It’s unfortunate that so much ignorance still abounds about poker and it’s clear distinctions from other forms of gambling, but it just means we must redouble our efforts to educate our leaders and the public in general.

      Neither can it be cause to jump on the Democratic Party bandwagon, for even if there is no anti poker plank in their platform, they are no more engaged in our struggle that the GOP.

      We should just take this as an indication that there is more work to be done, and continue the fight with positive attitudes. We still have heros in the GOP and we need them there, we just need to earn the support of some more

    3. Pingback QuadJacks | What’s at stake for online poker in the 2012 Nevada Senate election?

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