When it comes to the legalization of online gambling in America, there are both Republicans and Democrats who oppose it. There are also Republicans and Democrats who support it. Indeed, the issue of legalizing U.S. online gambling is a controversial one, and it's difficult to predict who will support or reject the cause based on political party affiliation alone.
Right now, Internet gambling is only permitted in three states: New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware (see the ongoing trend revenues). Other states are pushing to legalize the activity within their borders, and there has even been talk of a merger between New Jersey and Nevada that would expand the boundaries within which those states' citizens can remotely gamble.
Here's a look at some key players in the ongoing battle over online gambling legalization in the U.S.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein: A Democrat Against Online Gambling
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein opposes online gambling. She recently penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to stop Internet gaming from “invading living rooms, bedrooms, and dorm rooms across the country.” Reading between the lines of Feinstein's message, it seems that she's concerned about protecting families, particularly children and college-aged young adults, from the addiction that could result from home-based online betting.
Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte: Republicans Against Online Gambling
Feinstein's letter to Holder was co-authored by Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte. Graham, who hails from South Carolina, has a history of promoting anti-gambling legislation. Last March, he initiated an effort to restore the Federal Wire Act, a law which prohibits all forms of online betting in the U.S. Ayotte is a senator in New Hampshire who concurs with the rigid philosophy of Graham and Feinstein. She has a political history of supporting small business owners, sustainable healthcare reform, and women's rights.
Sheldon Adelson: A Republican Against Online Gambling
The owner of the Sands Casino empire, Sheldon Adelson, is an octogenarian and a financially influential Republican. Adelson takes a strong stance against the expansion of Internet gambling and has vowed to use his millions to fight its encroachment on society. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Adelson has actually swayed some members of the American Gaming Association to his side. This is no small feat considering that online gaming would only improve cash flow in America's struggling gaming economy. Adelson explains that he fears for the children who would be exposed to gaming propaganda at home. Critics have expressed the jaded sentiment that the business tycoon is just trying to protect his own brick-and-mortar empire.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton: A Democrat Who Supports Online Gambling
Earlier this summer, the citizens of Minnesota faced a bill that would potentially ban online lottery sales altogether. Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the bill, explaining that the Internet is an “increasingly common way for the public to access services.” Dayton views society's movement toward online gambling as part of a natural, technological evolution that shouldn't be tampered with. Dayton vetoed the anti-lottery bill right before the end of his state's 2014 legislative session, making it impossible for politicians to override his veto. Like Minnesota, Illinois and Georgia also sell lottery tickets online.
Chuck Canterbury, President of Police: An “Apolitical” in Favor of Online Gambling
Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, or FOP, is affiliated with an organization that has historically supported the Republican party. In spite of this, Canterbury has always maintained that he is “apolitical,” explaining that his "loyalty is to police officers, not any political organization.” In the particular case of online gambling, Canterbury supports its legalization. He argues that online gambling prohibition would only encourage the activity on the black market. If the government doesn't regulate the activity, Canterbury believes that the underhanded black-market would gain even more power than it already has. The best way to fight fire, according to Canterbury, is with fire.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal: A Republican Against Online Gaming
When Bobby Jindal ran for governor in Louisiana, he promised his constituents that online gambling would not be a platform he supported. “Putting a stop to (online gambling),” he says, “should be supported by both Republicans and Democrats.” Jindal says he doesn't believe the online gaming proponents who say, “Trust us. It's safe for kids.” In Jindal's mind, nothing could be further from the truth.
Ex-Republican Ron Paul Supports Online Gambling as a Libertarian
Ron Paul is a charismatic political figure who served for a time in the Republican congress. He was twice nominated as a Republican candidate for president and once nominated for President under the Libertarian party. According to Paul, a ban on Internet gambling would steal important freedoms from Americans. Paul also expresses concern that a ban on cyber betting would force banks to act as “law enforcement officers.” According to Paul's philosophy, small business is under no obligation to perform any type of “surveillance function” for the federal government.
In general terms, Republicans tend shy away from legalized Internet gambling more often than Democrats. Some Democrats, in fact, embrace the notion of organized Internet gambling as both a freedom and a way to protect America from under-handed criminals who would use casinos to launder illicitly gained money from the black market. Influential leaders like Senator Dianne Feinstein and FOP president Chuck Canterbury blur the lines, however, making it impossible for us to label either side of the argument as a "Republican" or "Democratic" issue.
The tug-of-war between Democratic and Republican ideals has raged in the U.S. for centuries, and it will continue to rage over this issue as key players step up and share their views. Only time will tell whether the online gambling freedoms enjoyed by New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware will reach the citizens in other U.S. states.