GOP Convention Passes Platform That Includes Anti-Online Poker Stance
With slightly more than two months left until the 2012 Presidential Elections, both the Republican (GOP) and Democratic parties are going through the process of naming their nominees. While it was long ago concluded that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would be the GOP selection and incumbent President Barack Obama the Democratic choice, it is a piece of the platform passed by the GOP that has raised the ire of poker players in the United States.
The GOP platform – the statement of positions that the party will advocate for arguing for its election to office – was passed on Tuesday during their convention in Tampa, FL, and the question of online gaming and poker was a plank of said platform. Although it was buried deep within their 62-page position (on Page 32, to be exact), it still has drawn considerable fire for the position that the Republicans plan to take should they earn election in November.
Under a heading of “Making The Internet Family-Friendly,” the GOP position states, “Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. 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.”
The platform stance is based on the December 2011 decision by the DoJ that the Wire Act of 1961 only applied to sports betting but not to any other forms of gaming. This has sent not only the federal government but also state legislatures into a frenzy to be the first to enact legislation that would allow for, at the minimum, online poker and, at its furthest extent, complete online casino gaming to American citizens.
The GOP stance is not surprising if we look at the history. In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA), proposed by former Republican Tennessee Senator Bill Frist, was tacked onto a piece of “must pass” legislation to become the law of the land and was signed into law by former President George Bush. For many years, some in the Republican party have fought against any type of online gaming, including poker, despite the pleas from not only players but from major casino industry leaders to allow for such action.
The Democratic Party hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of moving legislation forward to allow for online poker either. Although Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank attempted to push legislation through in 2008, those measures never came to a vote in the halls of Congress. In 2010, Rep. Frank’s efforts died with the seating of the current Congress.
Of course, we all remember that it was under this current Presidential administration that “Black Friday” came into being. The April 2011 indictment of the three leading poker rooms in the United States was led by Attorney General Eric Holder, the head of the Department of Justice, and has for all practical purposes decimated online gaming in the United States. Furthermore, neither the Obama Administration nor the Democratic Party has come out with any firm position on the issue.
Where the GOP stance is strange is that, over the past couple of years, it has been members of its own party that have been pushing for legislation. Texas Representative Joe Barton has a bill, HR 2366, that would allow for online poker but put stringent restrictions on other forms of online gaming and criminalize play on non-regulated sites. This proposal has languished in committee since its introduction last year.
Earlier this year, it was rumored that retiring Arizona Senator Jon Kyl had reached an accord with Nevada Senator Harry Reid regarding a Senate bill allowing for online poker. This yet-to-be released bill has sat in the minds of the two Senators as they attempt to find enough votes to pass it through the body. With Congress now on recess until after the November elections, the only hopes for either the Barton bill or the Reid/Kyl effort is passage during the “lame duck” session that follows the elections.
Naturally, the stance of the GOP has drawn the ire of the poker community. The Poker Players Alliance’s Rich Muny stated on the PPA website, “It is unfortunate that the authors of the plank are at odds with many House Republicans who are leading the charge for licensed and regulated online poker, but it even worse that they are so out of touch with the actual voters.” The comments by Muny, the Vice President of Player Relations for the PPA, are some of the calmest of the clamor that has erupted over several poker message boards.
What the effect of the GOP stance – and whether the Democrats will respond during their convention next week in Charlotte, NC – will have on the upcoming elections is unknown. But if the vitriol that is running through poker players at this moment is translated to November, it could make for an interesting Election Day.
Want the latest poker news in your twitter feed? Follow PokerNewsDaily on Twitter.