Wednesday December 16,2015 : REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES CAUTIOUS ON INTERNET GAMBLING ISSUE
But on issues like RAWA, most appear to favour the protection of states' rights.
Tuesday's televised Republican Party presidential candidates debate held in major party donor Sheldon Adelson's Venetian Casino (a point noted by Democrats) mainly and predictably focused on national security and foreign policy issues…apart from attempting to take front-runner Donald Trump down a peg or two….but in individual interviews with the Las Vegas Review-Journal candidates were cautious on proposals to ban online gambling like Adelson's Restoration of the American Wire Act.
That is perhaps understandable given the political influence that Adelson – a virulent anti-online gambling campaigner – wields through his multi-billion dollar fortune.
In an interview the day before, Florida candidate Jeb Bush tip-toed round the subject, saying that he needed to understand both sides of the issue before giving a definitive answer…but he commented that the issue of federal interference in states' rights to make decisions on activities within their borders was probably the clincher.
"I believe in states' rights and that there should be greater deference to the states," he said. "And I'm not a big fan of gambling so, mark me down as neutral until I can get a full briefing."
Candidate Ben Carson will also be influenced by the states' rights argument, and is on record as saying that online gambling legalization is an issue that individual states should and are authorised to decide.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also interviewed by the Journal, revealed that he has not yet taken a position on RAWA, but added that individual states have the right to determine what level of casino gaming to allow.
However, Cruz appears to disagree with the process (not necessarily the content) through which the Department of Justice decided in 2011 that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting.
"In my view, the president and attorney general are obligated to faithfully enforce the law," Cruz said, implying that law makers should have been involved in such a decision.
Presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina acknowledged that there are strong feelings around gambling issues, but suggested that there were more imperative challenges facing the USA.
However she noted that "Government gets involved in too many things in general and it's counterproductive for government to slow the advent of technology."
New Jersey governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie appears to share the view that more important challenges than RAWA face the country…and his state is one of only three that has already legalised online gambling, which has now started to produce meaningful returns.
The Las Vegas Review Journal points out that one Republican candidate who has supported RAWA, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, has recently moderated his view by saying that he could support an online poker exemption as it is essentially a game of skill. An Adelson spokesman has already killed that idea, saying that his employer is unlikely to favour it.
Another candidate who strongly supports RAWA is South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, but he is very low in the public polls that are assessing the popularity of the various candidates.
The American Gaming Association was also active on the election front this week, releasing a survey claiming that almost 40 percent of Nevada's land casino employees will withhold their vote from any presidential candidate who expresses negative opinions about gambling.
Consumer Opinion Services was commissioned for the AGA study and found that casino employees are focused on the various campaigns, with 75 percent listening closely to the views of each candidate, and 93 percent confirming that they intend to vote in next year's presidential election.
Respondents currently believe that Donald Trump for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats have the best understanding of the gambling industry in the United States, with New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie in third place.