Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio Confirms Anti-Online Gaming Stance in SC Town Hall

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As the 2016 Presidential campaign swings into high gear, several of the candidates have made their positions known on a variety of subjects. The question of online gaming and poker is one, however, that candidates from either party – Democrat or Republican – haven’t taken a stand. In a town hall meeting recently one of those candidates, who has allegedly had ties to a certain anti-online gaming billionaire, seemingly staked his position on the issue.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, making his swing through South Carolina prior to the state’s Republican Party primary on February 20, has been taking part in several “town hall” meetings throughout the Palmetto State. On Thursday during one of these town hall’s – basically a large gathering where the candidate stands center stage “in the round” and lets the people fire questions at him (supposedly without knowing what is coming) – Rubio faced a question from a voter regarding his position on the legalization of online poker and gambling in the United States. His reply partially confirmed his opposition to online gaming, but left a sliver of hope for online poker.

“I’m very concerned about expanding gaming online…what I don’t want to see is internet casinos, because I’ve seen gambling addiction ruin families, I have seen gambling expansion ruin people’s lives,” Rubio stated to his questioner, according to If viewed strictly by those comments, Rubio would be totally anti-online gaming. However, Rubio does qualify that online poker might be a bit different.

According to, Rubio feels “slightly different” about online poker because he sees that it might have “some level of skill to it rather than simply chance.” “I’m very concerned about expansion of gaming in a way that reaches people beyond games of skill,” Rubio continued as his audience politely applauded. “But I’m not open to expanding gambling online in a way that I think you’re going to find 17-year olds and retirees and everyone in between running up huge, huge debt on their credit cards and on their lives and the expansion of gambling is very dangerous for the company.”

Somewhere in the rambling reply that quoted, Rubio came out against online gaming but for online poker, surprisingly. Rubio, however, qualified his response with online poker by saying it had to have “responsible regulation” on a federal level instead of what Rubio called the “Wild West” approach of state-by-state solutions.

Rubio’s doubletalk on the subject of online gaming and poker is a bit odd, considering the factor that he is allegedly the poster child for one of the Republican Party’s major donors. Las Vegas Sands Corporation founder/owner and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also founded the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and has fought to ban online gaming on both federal and state levels, is one of the “power brokers” in the Republican Party and Adelson hasn’t chosen a candidate to back as of yet. It is thought that Rubio is one on the short list for his support for the Presidential race, which could put millions into his campaign coffers.

The 2016 Presidential campaign has witnessed many anti-online gaming candidates enter the race, but most of them have fallen by the wayside by this point. Such candidates as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum – all of whom had previously made anti-online gaming statements and actively sought Adelson’s favor – have ended their campaigns due to lack of voter interest. Strangely enough, all of the candidates have been on the side of the Republican Party who have been anti-online gaming; the two Democratic Party candidates for President, former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have not staked a position on the subject.

While the question of online gaming and poker isn’t one that should swing an election (as such issues as the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the ongoing strife in the Middle East and the massive amount of work to be done in the United States should demonstrate), some people will make the online gaming question a key one in their decisions. Thus, it is important to make sure to know which candidates have made their thoughts known on the subject. For Rubio, however, it seems that he wants to straddle the fence regarding the issue.

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