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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Ron Paul Fights for the Presidential Nomination… And Poker

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Ron Paul is not the typical Republican candidate participating in the race for the 2008 U.S. presidency. He voted against the Patriot Act, the Iraq war, and the regulation of the internet. He never voted to raise congressional pay and has never taken a government-paid junket, but he has voted to lower and abolish federal taxes. He does not participate in the congressional pension program, and he returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury each year.

The medical doctor and long-time Congressman is running on a unique platform and has gained a tremendous amount of grassroots support from voters across party lines. He has raised more money than some of his more mainstream Republican opponents and receives more hits on his website than the others. But what caught the eye of the poker media was his outspoken support for privacy rights, personal responsibility, and the rights of Americans to gamble on the internet.

When the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) organized and conducted its Washington Fly-In last week, quite a few members of Congress agreed to meet with the participating poker players, and some like John Conyers even attended a PPA reception. And though the PPA anticipated possible support and a meeting with Barack Obama, Democratic Congressman and presidential candidate who has openly spoken about his fondness for poker, Obama's campaign did not agree to the meeting. It was Ron Paul, the only presidential candidate in either party who has been outspoken in his support of online gaming freedoms, who showed up on the third day of the conference.

A 2+2 forum member wrote, "I met with Rep. Ron Paul for around 15 minutes. Needless to say, he's still with us 100%. We were there primarily to thank him for his strong support and to show that we're doing our part to fight for our rights." According to reports from attendees, Paul spent time with PPA members in attendance, taking photos and discussing the topic at hand.

This is no bandwagon that Paul has jumped on in order to gain support for his campaign. He fought against the UIGEA before it was passed; when the bill was first presented to the legislature in its original form in early July of 2006, he spoke out.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this legislation," Paul said in front of his fellow members of Congress. "It is not easy to oppose this legislation because it is assumed that proponents of the bill are on the side of the moral high ground. But there is a higher moral high ground in the sense that protecting liberty is more important than passing a bill that regulates something on the internet."

He continued, "I want to make the point that prohibition, as a general principle, is a bad principle because it doesn't work... Once you make something illegal, whether it is alcohol or whether it is cigarettes or whether it is gambling on the internet, it doesn't disappear because of [an] increased demand... H.R. 4411, the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, should be rejected by Congress since the federal government has no constitutional authority to ban or even discourage any form of gambling."

Poker players seemed to have found an ally in Paul. One online player in particular, only identified on his websites as Brad, started a website in support of Paul and in recognition of his support of internet gambling rights. The site, PokerPlayers4RonPaul.com, identifies some of the ways that Paul has fought for the rights of online gamblers, though it is admittedly an outlet being used to garner votes and support for Paul's political campaign.

Regardless of the outcome of the 2008 primaries and presidential election, Ron Paul is currently and will remain an outspoken advocate of privacy rights, including the rights of poker players to gamble online.

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