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Impact of mid-term elections on Internet gambling industry unclear

8 November 2006

While Internet gamblers may be celebrating the end of Jim Leach's 30-year tenure in the House of Representatives, it remains unclear how Tuesday's mid-term elections will affect the future of the Internet gambling industry in the United States.



A long-time opponent of Internet gambling, Leach (R-Iowa) introduced H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, in late November 2005. The bill was the precursor to legislation attached to a ports security bill in the Senate just prior to the Congressional recess for mid-term elections.



Leach lost his reelection bid to Democratic challenger Dave Loebsack by a slim two percent margin. There was no exit polling information in the district, so it is impossible to determine if Internet gambling legislation had any impact on the race.



However, a close look at national results may indicate the general direction voters are hoping the new Democratic majority in the House, and perhaps the Senate, will take.



Sixty-one percent of moderate and 57 percent of independent voters supported Democrats in House races nationally, according to CNN exit polls. Independent and moderate voters even selected Democrats in traditional Republican strongholds such as Virginia, where incumbent Senator George Allen is trailing Democratic challenger Jim Webb by more than 7,000 votes in initial vote tallies.



Ohio Democratic Senate challenger Sherrod Brown won two-thirds of the moderate and independent voters, and even had support from 23 percent of conservative voters en route to a 12-point victory, while Bob Casey garnered nearly three-fourths of independent votes en route to an 18-point win over Republican incumbent Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania's Senate race.



The Democrats' edge from independent and moderate voters allowed the party to gain the majority in the House, picking up at least 28 seats with 10 races yet to be decided. They also netted at least a 50-50 split in the Senate, and could gain control there as well should the Virginia Senate race go to Webb.



However, the election does not indicate a full-fledged swing to the left. In Connecticut, incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman, a conservative Democrat, overcame a loss in the primary to defeat the more liberal Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, to retain his seat as an independent. He claimed 55 percent of the moderate vote and 66 percent of the conservative vote.



In addition, Democrats were able to win House seats in traditionally red states by selecting conservative candidates.



Heath Shuler, a former NFL quarterback, was once recruited by the GOP to run for office in Tennessee, but chose to run as a Democrat in his home state of North Carolina in his first bid for public office. He defeated incumbent Charles Taylor in the state's 11th district by an eight-point margin to earn a seat in the House.



Nancy Boyda, a political moderate who switched from the Republican to Democratic party in 2003, defeated five-term incumbent Jim Ryun in Kansas' 2nd district. Brad Elsworth, a fiscally conservative Democrat, posted a 22-point win over six-term incumbent John Hostettler in Indiana's 8th district.



With candidates like Lieberman, Shuler, Boyda and Elsworth defeating opponents from both the extreme left and right, American voters are asking for leadership to promote sound legislation dictated by reason, not by extreme left- or right-leaning segments of the population.



But how will our newly elected leaders treat the Internet gambling industry?



Will they listen to "a scattering of voters who are upset by online gambling?" (Murray, "The G.O.P.'s Bad Bet," New York Times, 10/19/2006) Or will they listen to the majority of Americans, who, according to a poll commissioned by the Poker Players Alliance, do not believe that the federal government should ban Americans from playing poker online.



Will they support a bill similar to H.R. 5474, which sought to form a commission to study the Internet gambling industry? Or will they support more restrictive legislation, giving the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act more teeth?



Will they look to regulate a $12 billion industry that, according to a study by Judy Xanthopoulos of Quantria Strategies, could produce $3.3 billion a year in tax revenues? Or will they continue to move forward with ineffective prohibitions that create underground, unscrupulous providers who do nothing to protect consumers from fraud, keep minors from wagering online or promote responsible gambling?



If the Internet gambling crowd is loud enough, politicians will have to listen. Congressmen are sure to take one lesson from this election: Nothing is certain in politics. Not even a reelection bid for a 15-term Congressman from the state of Iowa.







AT OffSuite

Impact of mid-term elections on Internet gambling industry unclear is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.