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Republican Party Removes Online Poker Ban from Platform

In an e-mail sent to Poker Players Alliance (PPA) members late last week, PPA Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny relayed the positive news that a ban on internet poker has been removed from the Republican Party’s platform in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Ever since online poker has been a thing that has existed in this world, an online gambling prohibition has been a part of the Republican platform. The irony of it is that the Republican party claims to be the party of small government, yet for a solid two decades, it has included this plank, among others, that would give Americans less freedom and a federal government that controls their lives. But hey, there are only so many ways to keep that religious conservative vote.

Of course, it wasn’t like the Republican Platform Committee just up and decided that an online gambling ban was a bad idea. The PPA had to convince the Committee of it. And it also wasn’t like the Committee thinks it is a bad idea simply because it is a bad idea. As is often the case, it was likely decided that online gambling was better as a states’ rights issue because, you know, when someone at the federal level doesn’t want to make a tough decision, it is easier to just say, “Well, I think that’s up to the states to decide.”

Online poker is not an important issue in the grand scheme of federal politics, but it is certainly better that a poker ban is NOT a part of the Republican Party’s platform than if it was. Interestingly, this is also the party to which Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson donates millions upon millions of dollars. The same Sheldon Adelson who has made it his life’s mission to do “whatever it takes” to get online gambling banned in the U.S. It is a bit surprising that the Republican Party could get away with that, but then again, it’s not like Adelson is about to support Hillary Clinton.

Then there is Donald Trump’s recently-tabbed running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Forgetting all of his other ultra-conservative, religious stances, Pence is extremely anti-online poker. He favored Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), going so far as to write a letter to the Indiana Congressional Delegation, urging them to support it, as well. In the letter, he said it was important for the states to be able to decide for themselves about how they wanted to handle gambling, but that it was somehow also important to have a blanket ban on internet gambling banned at the federal level.

Pence’s strange reasoning for that:

Internet gambling crosses state lines and impacts the ability of a state to regulate and control gambling within its borders. By its very nature, the Internet involves interstate commerce. Internet gambling relies on technology, such as GPS location monitoring and other controls, that may be compromised. Internet gambling also relies on verification procedures for participant ages and payment information that are subject to similar vulnerabilities. Taken together with the mobility of our society and the widespread access to the Internet, a federal prohibition of Internet gambling is necessary. Otherwise the ability of states like Indiana to prevent and control Internet gambling within its borders, despite our best efforts, will be greatly diminished.

Now, hopefully you weren’t waiting to find out about the Republican Party’s or Mike Pence’s stance on internet gambling before deciding your pick for POTUS, but there you go.

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