Not long ago Sheldon Adelson’s campaign to ban internet gaming appeared to have significant momentum. Just last year, two U.S. Senators running for president – Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham – sponsored legislation inspired by his lobbyists or perhaps Adelson’s pledge to “spend whatever it takes” to accomplish his goal. In 2014 a Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling was led by two former politicians-turned-lobbyists, former New York Republican Gov. George Pataki and former Denver Democrat Mayor Wellington Webb. There also appeared to be a deal between Adelson and then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to ban online gaming.
Indeed, entire GOP seemed to oppose internet gaming, at least on paper. In 2012, the Republican platform specifically called for a federal ban of Internet gambling in a plank titled, “Making the Internet Family-Friendly.” It declared:
Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support the prohibition of gambling over the Internet and call for reversal of the Justice Department’s decision distorting the formerly accepted meaning of the Wire Act that could open the door to Internet betting.
However, much has changed in the past 12 months. Neither Sens. Rubio nor Graham are factors in the presidential campaign any longer and their legislation has gone nowhere. Adelson’s ruse to co-opt the National Association of Convenience Stores was a bust. And Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s effort to pass the Graham/Rubio Restoration of America’s Wire Act failed.
This year the Republican platform is completely mum on internet gaming. Instead, early in the platform, the party reaffirms its understanding of federalism in the strongest manner possible:
Federalism is a cornerstone of our constitutional system. Every violation of state sovereignty by federal officials is not merely a transgression of one unit of government against another; it is an assault on the liberties of individual Americans.
Gaming has always been a state issue. It should remain a state issue. Good for the Republicans for removing the prohibition on internet gaming from the GOP platform.