Changing of the Guard in U.S. Politics
November 6, 2008 (InfoPowa News) — With the U.S. electoral shake-up now history, InfoPowa takes a look at the losers and winners among American politicians with whom online gamblers have become familiar. The current round of voting decided on the fates of a third of the Senate incumbents and all of the House of Representatives, and fortunately most of the known supporters of the industry succeeded in keeping their seats.
The infamously anti-online gambling Democrat governor of Washington State, Christine Gregoire, managed to again survive a determined effort to unseat her by Republican Dino Rossi. The industry can therefore expect little change to the status quo in a state where almost every other form of gambling known to man is sanctioned and provides revenues to state coffers, but individual gamblers in the privacy of their homes are prohibited on pain of felony penalties from gambling online.
Thanks to the efforts of governor Steve Beshear to seize international domain names and protect land gambling and horseracing interests, Kentucky is now notorious for questionable judicial decisions, but that isn't the only claim to fame the state has arising from the current elections. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has only just managed to keep his seat in the Senate after a determined Democratic challenge. That is scant comfort to the industry, because McConnell drove the initiative that gave the horseracing industry its infamous carve-out from anti-online gambling legislation in the States. McConnell likes the UIGEA, which conveniently allows the extensive horseracing interests in his home state to flourish and vigorously promote Internet betting — something denied to any other form of gambling other than fantasy sports and lotteries. McConnell will be in Democrat faces in the new political season as Senate Minority Leader.
Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank easily retained his seat in the House of Representatives against Republican hopeful Earl Sholley. As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank has probably done more to push the cause of regulation for online gambling in the United States than any other politician, and has been outspoken in championing the rights of players to spend their money as they wish in the privacy of their own homes. His HR 6870, the Payments System Protection Act, was approved by the House Financial Services Committee earlier this year, but has yet to be debated on the House floor.
Another staunch defender of regulated online gambling, Republican Ron Paul of Texas, also ran and was returned to power unopposed. Paul co-sponsored Barney Frank's HR 5767 which sought to overturn the UIGEA and was narrowly defeated in a tied vote in committee.
Supportive Republican, Peter King of New York, was also re-elected on Tuesday night, easily defeating Democrat Graham Long.
Respected for her AGA-supported HR 2140 proposal that Internet gambling should be the subject of in-depth study before any political decisions are made on the pastime, Nevada's Democrat Congresswoman Shelley Berkley beat Republican challenger Kenneth Wagner by a mile and remains in Congress.
Jon Porter, the Republican author of a similar and earlier proposal, was not so fortunate and has been unseated in a close contest with Democrat Dina Titus.
The Democrat Congressman who supports the legalization of online poker as a game of skill, Robert Wexler from Florida, enjoyed a huge win over his Republican opponent Edward Lynch and retains his seat.
Republican Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who tried to make some sense of the UIGEA regulations with his HR 6663, is still in there pitching following his defeat of Democrat Eric Roberson.
On the dark side in the industry context, Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte has been an implacable enemy of Internet gambling in the United States for years, and is set to remain so after defeating Democrat Sam Rasoul by an almost two-thirds margin. Fellow Republican from Alabama Spencer Bachus, who holds equally strong anti-online gambling views, remains in power and was unopposed.
Representative Jim McDermott, a Washington State Democrat who introduced companion taxation proposals for Internet gambling regulatory bills, returns to the Capitol having won a convincing victory over Republican Steve Beren.
Michigan Democrat John Conyers, a former head of the House Judiciary Committee, remains in the House, having totally defeated two independent hopefuls for his seat. Conyers has courageously supported moves to legalize online gambling in the United States, and has questioned the motives for banning the pastime … and the infamous lack of precision and exemptions to existing bans.