Andrew Yang Expresses Full Support for Online Poker
Over the past year, dozens of people have campaigned for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 US presidential race. Until this weekend, only one – Cory Booker – had expressed full-throated support for legal online poker in the United States. That was until Andrew Yang put his stamp on this issue on Saturday, October 26, 2019.
In the 24 hours that passed since Yang tweeted his support for online poker, players and poker enthusiasts have been scrambling over themselves to become a part of the #YangGang.
Further, Yang agreed to be on Joey Ingram’s poker podcast. The excitement about that and the notoriety it will give to the online poker cause is palpable.
The Tweet Heard ‘Round the Poker World
It was a relatively simple tweet but spoke volumes for the online poker community.
US presidential candidate and entrepreneur Andrew Yang tweeted: “Online poker is legal in 4 states. The state-by-state rules are variable and push many players to offshore sites. We should clarify the rules and make it legal in all 50 states. US players and companies would benefit and new tax revenues could be used to mitigate addiction.”
Online poker is legal in 4 states. The state-by-state rules are variable and push many players to offshore sites. We should clarify the rules and make it legal in all 50 states. US players and companies would benefit and new tax revenues could be used to mitigate addiction.
— Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) October 26, 2019
In less than 24 hours, the tweet has received more than 34,000 likes, 5,300 retweets, and 1,700 comments.
As many members of the poker community tweeted gratitude to Yang and support of his candidacy, Joey Ingram took the opportunity to invite him to his show for an in-depth conversation about online poker. Less than six hours later, Yang agreed to the interview.
Thanks Joey. Would love to sit down. 👍
— Andrew Yang🧢 (@AndrewYang) October 27, 2019
There is no indication as to when or where the interview is going to take place, but it is likely to happen before the end of 2019.
In April 2019, many Democratic presidential candidates took their campaigns through the key swing state of Nevada. And the Nevada Independent publication asked some of them about their stances on internet poker and gaming. (Nevada legalized online poker but not online casino games.)
US Senator Cory Booker said, unequivocally, “I support online gambling.”
He added that he was frustrated that the federal government has been “doing things to inhibit the ability for gaming towns like Law Vegas and Atlantic City – and Reno – to conduct gambling in a safe and legal way.” This was in response to a question about the Justice Department’s efforts to reinterpret the Wire Act to block online gaming.
Booker said he does not agree with the Department of Justice actions over the past year to question states’ legal rights to legislate online gaming as they choose. And he added that he believes the DOJ’s case jeopardizes the future of online gaming.
It was not a surprising stance from Booker, considering his home state of New Jersey was one of the first to legalize and regulate online poker and casino games. New Jersey has derived significant benefits from the industry since it launched in 2013:
–$1.36 billion total internet gaming revenue through September 2019
–$144.32 million internet poker revenue through September 2019
–$238.3 million total taxes paid by internet gaming operators through September 2019
US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was not as supportive of online poker when asked. While she wasn’t against it, she told the Nevada Independent that it “presents a whole new set of challenges” to gambling regulation.
“Online can completely undercut every protection that the state puts in place, and that’s my concern,” Warren stated, though this comment showed that she is not aware of the protections that states like Nevada and New Jersey in place to protect players online.
She claimed that issues like problem gambling and underage gambling “are challenges that haven’t yet been addressed.” However, those issues are addressed in states with legal online poker.
Warren did, however, concede that she wanted to hear more from stakeholders before making any decisions.
Yang Support Differs
It is unclear what prompted Yang to tweet about online poker, though he had been doing quite a bit of campaigning through Nevada.
Even so, Yang tweeted unambiguous support for online poker to his nearly-million followers and during his campaign to become the next US President. He clearly examined the issue enough to take such a stance without any caveats.
Political Support Matters
At this point in US online poker history, the industry has no advocates in government to push for legal and regulated online poker. There is no lobbying happening on the state or federal level.
The industry once relied on the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) to represent the poker community. However, when players became unhappy with some of the PPA’s decisions in states like California, overall support for the organization waned. This left the PPA without funding and unable to continue its operations in 2018.
Poker Central bought the PPA and proclaimed its intention to continue its advocacy for online poker. However, that lasted only several months before the newly-branded Poker Alliance faded. The new group made no inroads for legal online poker, eventually started advocating more for sports betting than poker, and finally stopped doing anything altogether. Within a year, the organization was, for all intents and purposes, dead.
Sometimes, I speak my mind about things in the poker world. https://t.co/UrIXbFvv6i
— Jennifer Newell (@WriterJen) August 9, 2019
This has left the online poker industry with no representation.
If America is to ever hope of returning to the days of legal, prevalent, honest, lucrative online poker, the issue needs a national stage upon which to make its case.
Yang and Ingram might just be setting that stage.