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Internet gamblers may determine Congressional majority

2 November 2006

Recent editorials in The New York Times and FOXNews.com suggest control of Congress may come down to the votes of Internet gamblers.



Radley Balko, a longtime pundit for the Cato Institute, wrote in a recent FOXNews.com column that the GOP distanced itself from the 15-20 million Americans wager online each year when it passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).



"This largely apolitical group could well get politically motivated the first time they try to log on, and are told their small-stakes poker game has now been outlawed by the Republican leadership in Congress," Balko wrote on FOXNews.com. "If this was a political move, there's a good chance it'll backfire, and cost the GOP more votes than it wins them."



Charles Murray railed the Republican leadership in The New York Times for aligning itself with "a scattering of voters who are upset by online gambling" while alienating "the millions who love it."



And the election results will be close according to Slate.com. The web magazine says Democrats are likely to gain control of the House of Representatives and could even take control of the Senate in next week's mid-term elections.



Gambling911.com has been actively trying to unseat Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) in a race that, should Democratic challenger Jim Pederson win, could tip the balance of power to the left. Kyl has introduced restrictive Internet gambling legislation in nearly every Congressional session since 1998. The site is working with several others to urge Arizona Internet gambers to vote against Kyl and support Pederson.



Kyl, who has seen a healthy lead shrink to six points in the latest Arizona State University poll, doesn't seem concerned that Internet gamblers will hurt his chances in the upcoming election. Andy Chasin, a public relations representative for the Kyl campaign, dismissed the campaign against Kyl in The Arizona Daily Star.



"They have the same right to vote, but if you look at the demographics …" (Chasin) said, drifting into a long pause before changing the subject.


The pause implied that perhaps gamblers aren't the most diligent voters.




The Poker Players Alliance is trying to change that perception. The organization provides information on its Web site on how House members voted on Internet gambling restrictions and encourages members to take that information into account before deciding on whom to vote for.



"If you enjoy poker, this is certainly an issue that may bring you to the polls," says PPA President Michael Bolcerek. "We think people are going to be active and will take this issue with them into the polling booth."



Ed, a 32-year old PPA member who withheld his last name because he didn't want to be identified by the IRS, is doing everything he can to find out which candidates would be most likely to support an exemption in the UIGEA for poker. He has contacted candidates for Congressional offices to find out where they stand on the issue and is reporting the results on the PPA message boards to educate voters.



"We need to figure out who is on our side and who is against us," Ed said. "The online poker playing community is a large force and something to be considered. There are millions of people who play online poker."



The PPA has been hesitant to endorse one party over another, though Bolcerek reports that several of the PPA's lifelong Republican members have vowed to vote only for Democratic candidates. Other voices in the industry mirror the PPA's neutral stance.



"If things are presented in the right way, regardless of how the election turns out, the poker exemption is one that can be made with a Republican or Democratically controlled Congress," said Brian Jakusik, executive director of the National Right for Online Gaming.







AT OffSuite

Internet gamblers may determine Congressional majority 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.