Gambling Community Speculates on the Effect of Donald Trump’s Election on US Online Gaming
Since Donald Trump was elected to be the next president of the United States, people in the global gaming community have discussed what its effects might be on online gambling. This is the first time a former casino owner has been president, so it is natural to speculate.
All is speculation, but notable poker personalities like Mike Matusow and Barry Greenstein have given the opinion. That has been reported, while several major gaming media sites have analyzed the topic.
Mike Matusow’s Online Poker Encouragement
Prior to the election, poker professional Mike Matusow tweeted, “Just vote Trump and online poker be legal in a yr“.
Matusow suggested that Donald Trump’s past in the gambling industry means he is going to support gambling, once president.
Matusow’s tweet referenced poker pro Barry Greenstein’s Twitter post, which had a more general missive about online gambling: “Tell your Philadelphia senator, you don’t want to be told what you can do in the privacy of your home.”
The 61-year old professional card player posted some thought on the election on Google Drive. It is an interesting read, because Greenstein is an Independent who criticizes both political parties.
Is Matusow Right on iPoker?
Online Poker Report questioned whether Mike Matusow’s assumption was correct. OPR discussed the role anti-gambling figures like Jason Chaffetz and Mitch McConnell would play. The site also discussed Donald Trump’s relationships with notable figures in the online gambling debate these past few years, such as Sheldon Adelson and Chris Christie.
Jason Chaffetz and Mitch McConnell
The first thing of note is the growing power of Republican congressmen like Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Mitch McConnell. No other Washington insider has had a more active role in promoting Restore America’s Wire Act from 2014 to 2016 than Jason Chaffetz. As the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz is the only lawmaker in the House of Representatives with subpoena powers. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has supported RAWA in the past.
Chaffetz and McConnell now have more power to enact law than previously, because Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency. The last time Republicans controlled both houses and the presidency (2006), they passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). That decision eliminated much of US online gambling industry, so the concern is a GOP-dominated Capitol Hill will result in further restrictions.
RAWA’s Chance of Passage Goes Up
Unless McConnell changes the filibuster rules of the Senate, the GOP still will not have the votes to pass Restore America’s Wire Act with a strict party-line vote. Recent past on the RAWA deliberations show the Republicans do not have 100% support for the anti-online gambling bill, because civil libertarians in the Republican Party (Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Grover Norquist) have opposed RAWA due to state’s rights concerns.
Whatever the case, it appears that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would have to cobble together a cross-party platform for Restore America’s Wire Act to pass. That might happen, especially if RAWA was attached to another, more popular bill — the way UIGEA was attached to the Safe Port Act.
Donald Trump and Sheldon Adelson
The question then becomes whether Donald Trump would sign such a bill. Donald Trump has not given many statements on online gambling over the years. In 2011, Trump indicated support for the concept, but that was 5 years ago. Since the president-elect has switched positions on issues from month-to-month and week-to-week, a pronouncement 5 years ago might not carry much weight.
Also, land-based casino owners have been some of the staunchest opponents of online gambling. Sheldon Adelson is a case in point. Adelson, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, has been the number one champion of RAWA in the United States. He bankrolled a public policy group whose goal is to pass RAWA in the United States.
2016 Campaign Ties
Trump and Adelson had a couple of points of contact during the presidential campaign. In May 2016, Adelson and family formed a group which planned to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, though he did not donate tens of millions of dollars, like many assumed would happen. At the Republican National Convention in July, Sheldon Adelson snubbed Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who was supposed to sit with the Las Vegas casino mogul after his speech. That led to a personal visit and “Thank You” from Donald Trump with the LVS founder.
Therefore, the two men are cordial. Donald Trump is known to be open to personal flattery, so it is possible Sheldon Adelson could work his charm on the president-elect to pass his anti-online gambling bill. Sheldon Adelson is not a one-issue political donor, though, so it is unknown if he would spend his political capital for that issue.
Chris Christie Effect
Others with ties to the online gambling industry might have a role on the Trump White House. Gov. Chris Christie spent years championing the online gambling industry in New Jersey. Atlantic City’s casinos draw in millions of dollars of much-needed revenue from licensed online gambling, so Christie likely would champion online poker’s cause in the Trump Administration.
The question is how much influence Christie would have. News reports have suggested that Trump wants to name Chris Christie his Attorney General. The Bridgegate Scandal is likely to derail those considerations, because Christie faces a possible indictment in a federal court and likely would face considerable opposition even from the GOP-dominated congress.
Possible Chief of Staff
Others believe Chris Christie is in line to become Trump’s Chief of Staff. That position might have no legal authority like the head of the Justice Department, but no person has more access to the president. Also, the Chief of Staff controls access to the president, so Christie would be in a key position to shape the debate. Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, took a long walk with Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, during Trump’s visit to the White House on Thursday, stoking rumors that Kushner is in line for chief of staff.
Thus, Chris Christie is likely to receive a position in the Trump administration, but it is unlikely to be a top tier position, despite Christie’s early support of Donald Trump. He might otherwise be well-positioned, but Bridgegate clouds Christie’s future.
Conclusion on RAWA
The conclusion is RAWA has never been closer to passage than it will be in the early stages of the Trump Administration. Key figures in the US Congress are positioned to support the bill. Donald Trump has a personal relationship with Sheldon Adelson. Those who might otherwise influence Trump might have waning influence. Online gambling advocates might need to prepare to lobby their congressmen, if they wish to maintain the small legal online gambling industry which exists in the United States right now.
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