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A Small Victory for Internet Gambling

By: R. Kingsley, Wednesday August 27th 2008
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The Republican Party seems to have sensed the mood of the nation, and perhaps of the world. While finalizing its 2008 platform, the Republican Platform Committee removed the sentences from the draft that stood against Internet gambling. The offending sentences were, "Millions of Americans suffer from problem or pathological gambling that can destroy families. We support legislation prohibiting gambling over the Internet or in student athletics by student athletes who are participating in competitive sports." This anti-Internet gambling stance was also present in the Republican platform in both 2000 and 2004. Senator Richard M. Burr clarified this sudden move by saying that they wanted to "make the tent bigger". Unscrambled into simple language this means that the Internet gamblers now make a significant vote bank. John Pappas the executive director of the Poker Player's Alliance (PPA) had this to say, "This is a small victory in our determined effort to educate both sides of the aisle that there is a true constituency in America that values its Internet freedoms."

Credit for this turnaround has to go to former Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato. D'Amato has been championing the cause of Internet gambling and is Chairman of the PPA, a movement that has been instrumental in the opposition to the UIGEA. The PPA has over a million members and has spent $1.2 million during the first half of 2008 for its cause to support Internet gambling. The members of the PPA have contributed more than $350,000 to their respective candidates in this election year. Despite the Republican Party's hitherto opposition to Internet gambling, D'Amato had not given up on his Republican beliefs and is a supporter of expected Republican presidential nominee John McCain. It is evident that his untiring lobbying within the party has been equally effective as his public opposition. Over the last few weeks the PPA had adopted a unique method of combating the Republican Party stance. They had flooded the Party's web site with messages opposing the Party's opposition to Internet gambling. They had also urged their members to send the standard letter drafted by the PPA to their Senators and Congressmen.

It is not only the PPA that has been acting against the imposition of a total ban on Internet gambling. Internet gambling includes casino games and sports betting and a wider section of the society is involved. The Las Vegas Sun is one of the newspapers that carried a readers' poll asking, "Should Republicans adopt a party plank at the upcoming national convention to rescind the ban on Internet gambling?" The newspaper has reported that 60% of readers are in favor of rescinding the ban.

Internet gamblers should not view this as a total victory, but at best as a first step. The Republican Party had introduced the UIGEA and is countering the opposition to the UIGEA in various forums. And it also should be noted that though the Democratic Party did not have any anti-Internet gambling issues in their platform, they did not have any pro-Internet gambling issues either.

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