A look at how the Vice Presidential nominees would fair for the gambling industry

Hartley breaks down the policies of the nominees for Vice President, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, and evaluates what their nominations mean for gambling in the U.S.

In an article I wrote in February I looked at all the Presidential candidates and argued that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would be best for gamblers in the United States.

Vice Presidential nomineesThe article wasn't trying to assess who would be the best candidate to run the country, but rather who would be the best for gambling interests. The argument was pretty clear. As a casino developer and a person who has indicated in the past that he doesn't have any objections to online gambling, Trump would welcome increased gambling in the United States if it provided the opportunity for the country to get some more money. And he also hinted that with foreign deals he is willing to provide more opportunity for other countries if the United States gets its fair share from the agreement. And after listening to his speech at the convention I have more confidence that I am correct. It was pretty obvious that Trump is not your usual Republican candidate. The speech made no references to God and the only mention of religion at all was when he thanked the evangelicals for supporting him saying he's "popular with the religious community." He made no comments condemning abortion, gay marriage, gambling or any other issues that Republicans usually rail against. In fact, his daughter Ivanka's speech actually praised the LGBT community and talked about how her father would fight for equal rights for them as well as for mothers on maternity leave and for disenfranchised students. And she even mentioned he would fight for universal daycare. These are usually issues the Republicans oppose and not one would expect to hear from a Republican candidate. Ivanka also made it clear she doesn't consider herself Republican or Democrat and is a very close friend of Chelsea Clinton and it's quite likely that Ivanka would be given an important position as part of a Donald Trump presidency.

So Donald Trump is not a neo-conservative. Social issues clearly are of little interest to him compared to other Republicans. His focus seems to be on rebuilding the economy and stopping immigration, which he blames for an increase in terrorism and violence in the U.S. and also likely because he believes illegal immigrants take away jobs from Americans. So when it comes to gambling there is no doubt that Trump will leave it up to the states and will not throw up any federal roadblocks, which should pave the way for legal interstate online gambling, DFS and also for sports betting, especially since he owes Chris Christie a favor and Christie wants legal sports betting in New Jersey to help out the race tracks and casinos in Atlantic City.

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton has never openly talked about gambling, although she said she had no strong moral objections to it, but as I mentioned in the previous article, a good friend of mine, involved in the industry and who conversed with Clinton on numerous occasions, was confident that Hillary was prepared to support the gambling industry in any way she could so long as the industry could prove that it would benefit the country.

Mike Pence Vice  President gambling interestSo the two candidates are likely going to be a boon to the gambling industry in the U.S. regardless of who gets in, but what about the nominees for Vice President, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine? Generally, I wouldn't bother considering them since the Vice President's opinions are irrelevant, but this is a different Presidential election year. The knives will be out for Trump as a result of his unpopularity and caustic speech against the Republican National Committee, and for Hillary there is still strong speculation that she will have to pay for the deleted emails and for her role in Benghazi. So there is a good chance that neither president will see the end of their first term, either due to impeachment or some other efforts by their party to have them replaced. And in the past while the V.P. usually just follows the policies of the President in times when they don't finish their term, one can be assured this will not be the case with Pence, who has a completely different view of politics than does Trump.

So what does Pence believe? Pence is pretty much a clone of the prior Republican candidates and opposes all the "social evils" that the party has chastised in the past. He opposes all forms of abortion and has been given a 100% rating by the National Right to Life Coalition; he voted to mandate that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman; he voted not to fund activities that supported the LGBT community; he voted to force mandatory prayer in school; and in 2003 he voted to ban credit card use for Internet gambling. He was also a strong proponent of John Kyl and last year on a vote in Indiana on the expansion of gambling to help the casinos he stated that he opposed any expansion of gambling although he did say he wanted to help the gambling businesses that are there to succeed:

"If the bill gets to my desk I'll evaluate it from the standpoint of, of first my view that we should not, I don't support an expansion of gaming...But also, I've also made it clear that I am open to common sense reforms in business practices that allow these businesses to remain competitive."

In that regard Pence allowed Riverboat casinos to move on land, but he vetoed a bill that would allow online horse racing and he backed Sheldon Adelson's RAWA that would repeal any online gambling that was already legal.

Tim Kaine Vice President gamblingSo while Pence's stance may seem inconsistent regarding gambling, for American gamblers who are looking for more opportunities to wager and who want to be able to place bets from the comfort of their homes, it's clear as day that Pence will block any bills as President that aim to legalize online gambling or expand gambling with legal sports betting.

Tim Kaine's position, on the other hand, is unknown. He has given no public indication of whether he supports gambling, but he has stated he supports individual rights and he has been a strong supporter of states rights in areas that are not granted specifically to the federal government. He also has noted that the real rights belong to the people, implying that it's not up to the government to make personal social decisions for them. That is really all anyone can ask for. What gamblers don't want is a national leader like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz that stated their opposition to gambling expansion, suggesting they have this stance to protect gamblers from themselves . . . for their own good. Kaine has called himself "a Catholic who supports abortion" and unlike with the evangelical churches, Catholics do not have any type of stance against gambling.

So American gamblers find themselves in a better position than before. They can choose a President that has made money off of casinos and who has stated he has no objection to expanded gambling or they can choose a President that has secretly said she'd be good for the gambling community. Unfortunately, the former has chosen a Vice Presidential nominee who has a completely different set of values than he does when it comes to personal social choices and who undoubtedly would ensure that expanded gambling is halted in its tracks, if Pence is ascended to the top position. So for that reason alone and as a result of the fact that Donald Trump may not be able to complete his full term it seems like the Democrats are still their best bet if the ability to gamble unimpeded is the voter's main criteria in casting their ballot in November. That said, let's hope that whoever gets in as President of th United States is able to complete their mandate and that the gambling community benefits as a result. 

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out Hartley's RUMOR MILL!

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