The push for the legalization of online poker in the United States finally gathered momentum this year with many states including California, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania taking steps towards passing legislation for online poker.
The poker lobby group, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has however expressed fears that this progress could be in jeopardy with Indiana Governor Mike Pence being chosen as a running mate by Donald Trump, the presidential nominee from the Republican Party.
Pointing out Pence’s support of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act and his relationship with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, one of the biggest opponents of internet gambling in the United States, the PPA has highlighted Pence’s history of being against online poker.
Adelson is a well-known supporter of the Republican Party and has donated heavily for election campaigns. According to recent reports, Adelson has contributed over $100 million to Trump’s campaign this year. Lobbyists for online poker are concerned that he might use his connections to push his anti-online poker agenda if Trump wins the presidential election in November.
In a statement, the PPA said
[Pence] went as far as to author a letter to the Indiana Congressional delegation asking them to support the [Sheldon] Adelson bill that would shut down state-licensed poker websites and prohibit new ones. As if that was not enough, he made sure to send a copy to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), sponsor of the House version of the prohibition legislation, to provide backing for one of Chaffetz’s Congressional hearings on the subject
The Republican Party has not yet called for a ban on online gaming in this year’s campaign. However it had done so in all previous campaigns and Pence has taken active steps to express support for blocking online gaming. The PPA believes that the Adelson-Pence connection could turn out to be negative for the online poker industry, since Adelson has sworn to do whatever it takes to get a ban on online gaming.
Adelson has a history of driving campaigns for shutting down online poker. His Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has been spearheading numerous initiatives to hamper the progress of online poker in the United States. One of the latest efforts include adding an anti-online gambling clause in the annual Appropriations Bill which would challenge online poker operations. It sought to ban online gaming on basis of the Wire Act which prohibits internet gambling.