News that presidential aspirant Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) joined fellow presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) in submitting legislation to outlaw state legalized online gaming should come as no surprise by those who have watched Rubio courtship of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the bill’s primary supporter and beneficiary. What should come as a surprise is the apparent lack of understanding of the actual intent, purpose and affect of the legislation by those who introduced the legislation on behalf of the casino mogul. Their statements supporting the bill make little sense when one actually reads the legal language that happens to have been originally drafted by Adelson’s lobbyist.
Proponents of the legislation argue the bill stops the proliferation of gambling online. They use poll-tested fear language that claiming without their efforts, “Your home could be a casino,” “Your kids smartphone could be a casino,” and “The FBI can’t do anything to stop it right now.” Scary stuff. But the bill does absolutely nothing with regard to the thousands of readily available off-shore online gaming websites and bingo websites that proliferate the Internet. They will remain whether the bill passes or not. The legislation prohibits states from legalizing online gaming for their residents, something that New Jersey and other states have done, shredding the Tenth Amendment by overturn state laws (source: https://www.spinathon.com).
When pressed to defend his decision to carry Adelson’s water by stating, Rubio meekly said, “Vegas is Las Vegas. They have a right in Las Vegas to have any gambling and whatever Wizard Slots Wizard Slots they want. They have laws. They have legislators. They can vote on what they want or don’t want. In Florida, I have a long history of opposing expansion of gambling. When you talk about online gambling, that comes into Florida. That is potentially people, including young people, who are going to go online and gamble and lose money. I just don’t believe that’s the right approach for our country.”
That is completely misleading, intentionally or otherwise. In order for Florida to have legal online gambling, the legislature would need to act and the governor would need to sign the bill into law. New Jersey’s decision to legalizing gaming for their residents does not affect Florida in any way, shape or form. New Jersey has implemented strict enforcement mechanisms that ensure only residents of the Garden State can partake. It is easier for Florida residents to gamble on foreign sites than on New Jersey’s and this bill only addresses New Jersey’s.
Rubio is not the only supporter of the Adelson bill to misrepresent the logic and reasoning for the legislation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated that South Carolina citizens banned poker machines and then somehow made the logical leap that overturning other states laws makes his position the correct one. Likewise, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the House sponsor of the Adelson bill claimed that Utah does not want to have gaming foisted on them. It won’t as long as the Utah legislature doesn’t act to legalize it.
In addition to overturning state laws, the Graham, Rubio and Chaffetz bill, in a brazen effort to placate the National Association of Convenience Stores, also outlaws online sale of state lottery tickets raising the ire and opposition of number state lottery directors — another attack on the states.
Adelson and his lobbyists are either selling snake oil, not telling the sponsors of their bill what, in fact, it does or the sponsors cannot defend the measure on constitutional and conservative principles. Anyway you slice it, the bill’s sponsors should not have to, as Nancy Pelosi once said, “pass it to find out what’s in it.”