US Midterm Election Results Cause Concern Among Poker Players

Posted on November 7th, 2014 by Jon Pineda
Mitch McConnell Election Day online poker

Mitch McConnell will be the new Senate Majority Leader when the Republican Party takes control of the chamber next year. (Image: Philly.com)

The 2014 US midterm elections didn’t see very many shocking results: as expected, Republicans took control of the Senate and had a strong night overall.

Still, as the dust settles from Election Day, many in the poker community are seeing the latest round of election results as a bad sign (or, at least, not a good one) for the future of online poker in the United States.

Most of that concern comes at the federal level. As we now know, Republicans will hold majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate next year, giving them firm control over the legislative agenda.

That could potentially increase the likelihood of a bill, such as the Sheldon Adelson-backed Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), getting a serious look from legislators in the coming year.

Republican Majority Could Affect Online Poker

If you’re not familiar with the partisan politics of online gambling, the reasoning for this might not be immediately clear. After all, there are members of both parties that have tried to advance online gambling regulation in the past, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that are strongly anti-gambling.

But only the GOP has an official stance on Internet gambling: their 2012 platform called for a ban on the practice. Sheldon Adelson is also a huge donor to Republican campaigns, giving him a fair amount of influence in the party. Those factors combine to create an environment where Republicans are more likely to advance legislation like RAWA.

Still, the odds of such a law passing are slim, at least for now.

Many Republicans are against such a ban, particularly in the libertarian wing of the party. That means that some Democratic support would be needed to pass an online poker ban. While that may be possible to obtain, finding votes in either party may be somewhat difficult on an issue that isn’t a high priority for many legislators or voters.

And while RAWA may gain some traction, and could even get through the House Judicial Committee, its odds of passage are still quite slim even under a Republican Congress.

Few State Results Impact Online Poker

At the state level, there were few results that would be of particular interest to online poker players. The regulation of Internet poker wasn’t a real issue in any campaign, and none of the many ballot initiatives being voted on across the country truly concerned poker, though a couple of high-profile votes did involve the gambling industry.

One race that may not have worked out so well for online poker fans was the gubernatorial contest in Florida, where Republican governor Rick Scott held on in a close race against challenger (and former Governor) Charlie Crist. Scott has been an outspoken opponent of online gambling, making it unlikely that Florida would be among the next wave of states to regulate Internet poker or casino games.

Two state initiatives were also of interest to the gambling community. In Massachusetts, voters soundly defeated a proposal to repeal the state’s casino law, which will now allow plans for two casinos and a slots parlor to move forward. Across the nation in California, voters said no to allowing a Native American tribe to build a casino outside of their reservations, a move that could set an interesting precedent for Indian gaming going forward.

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