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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Presidential Candidates and Support for Poker

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Super Tuesday is upon us. It is a tremendously important day in the race toward the presidential election as 24 states hold primaries or caucuses on Tuesday, February 5th. For the Democrats, 1,681 delegates are at stake in 16 primaries and seven caucuses, and for the Republicans, 1,020 delegates will be selected in fifteen primaries and six caucuses.

While states like California, New York, and New Jersey have a tremendous number of delegates in play, making those states must-win for most candidates, each state involved in Super Tuesday plays a role in the process that will ultimately choose the next President of the United States. For those interested in politics, this entire year is the World Series and Super Bowl wrapped up in one. And with the races on the Republican and Democratic side so close at this point, the thought of having brokered conventions sends political junkies into absolute tizzies.

There are also numerous states that will hold primaries and caucuses after Super Tuesday, and with such tight races, each one of the subsequent states may also play an integral role in who is nominated to represent each of the two major political parties.

When choosing a candidate, a voter must obviously take many issues into consideration. Everyone has issues that matter more to them than others, whether they are the war and foreign policy, health care, or the economy and taxes. And many voters take into consideration the political history and experience of the candidates, as well as their personalities and personal value systems. Each voter has his or her own criteria to use when choosing a candidate to support.

For the purpose of this article, however, the candidates’ likely support for or opposition to poker-related issues is the focus. Most of the candidates have not taken a specific stance regarding poker or the legalization/regulation of it, but some have given indications on related issues such as the WTO, privacy rights on the internet, etc.

Let’s take a look at the candidates:

Democrat Barack Obama

The first-time senator from Illinois has a particular fondness for poker, as discussed in this article. He readily admits to taking his games seriously and playing for money.

During his recent campaigning in Nevada, prior to that state’s caucuses on January 19th, Obama decided to support Nevada Congresswoman Shelley Berkley’s bill to study internet gambling in order to properly weigh the pros and cons of regulation. While he did not officially sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill, he indicated support of it, which Berkley will no doubt hold him to.

Adversely, Obama referred to the internet as a “Wild West of illegal activity.” While this seems like a bit of a generalization, and the context of the comment is unclear, the statement indicates that he has some reservations about activities on the internet.

On the Obama website, the only section that discusses issues in a way that ever so slightly relates to online gaming is the “technology” section. Under the topic of protecting the openness of the internet, it states:

Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the internet. Users must be free to access content, to use applications, and to attach personal devices… Obama values our First Amendment freedoms and our right to artistic expression and does not view regulation as the answer to these concerns. Instead, an Obama administration will give parents the tools and information they need to control what their children see on television and in the internet in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment.

Visit for more information.

Democrat Hillary Clinton

The two-term senator from New York has never expressed any type of affinity for poker or gaming of any sort. However, Clinton also decided to support Shelley Berkley’s legislative proposal to study internet gambling to see if it can be fairly regulated for customer safety and American business competition in the international market. She took this position, as did Obama, during her Nevada campaign in January.

In a search of the issues on Clinton’s website, nothing in any category seemed to indicate what the platforms might be on technology, privacy rights, or other related issues.

However, as stated in this article, Clinton seems to have many powerful names in the gaming world working for her campaign. For example, former Las Vegas Mayor and Harrah’s lobbyist Jan Jones works for Clinton and will be running the Nevada Business Leadership Council, which includes members who are also high ranking executives at companies like MGM/Mirage Group,, and Harrah’s. And Nevada Senator Harry Reid’s son, Rory Reid, is the head of Clinton’s Nevada presidential campaign.

Visit for more information.

Republican Mitt Romney

The former governor of Massachusetts has taken no official position on poker or gaming.

What is known is that during Romney’s campaign in Iowa prior to the caucuses in January; he befriended Tom Coates, Vice President of Truth About Gambling, a vehemently anti-gaming organization. Coates joined Romney’s “Faith and Values” steering committee and has stated that gambling is one of society’s “greatest social ills” and hopes that the religious community will stand up against gambling.

There is nothing to be found on Romney’s “issues” section of the website to indicate his exact stance on the issue of internet gaming or related issues, though he feels very strongly about protecting children from “obscenity” on the internet. Any correlations to gaming in this category would only be pure conjecture.

Visit for more information.

Republican Ron Paul

Though the long-term Congressional Representative has been linked closely with Libertarian views, he has been associated with the Republican Party for a number of years. But whatever the basis for his philosophies, he is a supporter of poker and subsequent legislation, signing on as a sponsor of pro-poker legislation in 2007.

Paul also took the time to meet with members of the Poker Players Alliance during a fly-in in October of 2007, attending a reception and speaking with poker players like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson. He also took the time to attend the PPA reception to further discuss the issue.

While Paul doesn’t claim to be a poker player himself, he actively supports the rights of privacy and personal responsibility, which include the rights to gamble on the internet – and anywhere else, for that matter.

Even prior to the passing of the UIGEA, Paul spoke out at a session of Congress. Addressing the Speaker of the House, he said, in part: “I want to make the point that prohibition, as a general principle, is a bad principle because it doesn’t work… HR 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.”

Details of his support can be found in this article.

Visit for more information.

Republican John McCain

The long-time Arizona Senator has not stated any specific position on any form of poker or gambling.

The only indication of how McCain might side on the issue was written on the website of the Poker Players Alliance organization: “[He] does appear to have been influenced by his fellow Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who is a vigorous opponent of our rights. McCain, however, has always been willing to consider both sides of an issue and may simply need to know how strongly PPA members feel about this issue.”

It should be noted, though, that Jack Binion and wife Phyllis have been campaign contributors to McCain.

No pertinent information can be found on his website to indicate how the candidate feels about personal or privacy rights, so it remains to be seen which side of the issue he might take if a decision is required on his part.

Visit for more information.

Republican Mike Huckabee

The former Arkansas Governor has made it very clear that he opposes internet poker, more generally internet gambling. He has promised to veto any legislation that attempts to repeal the UIGEA or legalize online gaming in any way.

Huckabee was the only candidate to respond to a questionnaire sent to all presidential candidates by the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. According to the Poker Players Alliance, he was asked the following question: “Last year, Congress voted overwhelming to criminalize most forms of internet gambling. This year some members of Congress are promoting legislation to legalize internet gambling. If such legislation passed, would you veto it?”

His simple answer was, “Yes.”

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