The 2012 elections saw many winners (as well as losers like conservative Super Pac’s and their donors) with progressives winning virtually every ballot initiative proposed, Democrats not only keeping the presidency but also picking up House and Senate seats, and pollsters being vindicated as people like Nate Silver called the election results with near-perfection. However, there is one group that is being overlooked in the “winners” column: poker advocates. At virtually every level poker players came out of the 2012 elections as winners, and seem to have their strongest coalition going into 2013.
To be honest, there really wasn’t a good result in the Presidential race, but poker advocates did get the lesser of two evils in Barack Obama, who unlike Mitt Romney’s open disdain for any form of gambling has been more indifferent to the idea of legalized online poker.
It’s likely that President Obama will sign any bill that hits his desk addressing online gaming, especially if it’s part of an overall deficit reduction package.
The Poker Players Alliance had to bed doing high-fives on election night as 51 of their 54 backed House of Representatives candidates will be sworn-in this January. The best opportunity is still in the upcoming “Lame Duck” session, but with the looming fiscal cliff on the horizon it’s likely that online poker legislation will garner little attention, which could be a good thing, as legislation could be attached to the potential deficit reduction efforts.
If nothing is done in the final days of the current Congress it will be back to the drawing board in 2013, with Joe Barton (R-TX) leading the charge in the House of Representatives, while Harry Reid and Dean Heller advance potential online poker legislation in the Senate.
Maryland and Rhode Island both expanded their brick & mortar gaming this year, continuing a trend since 2008 that has seen state after state introduce or expand gambling as they search for revenue in these tough financial times. The way things have been moving in recent years it seems that virtually every state will have full gambling in the coming years (with the exceptions of ultra-conservative areas like Utah).
The trend with ballot initiatives has to be seen as a win for poker proponents, considering everything from same-sex marriage to marijuana was a winner on the 2012 ballot. This trend shows a progressive and libertarian movement among US voters, giving hope that online poker ballot initiatives stand reasonable chances in future elections. Additionally, this move towards libertarianism could start influencing decisions from current lawmakers, who if nothing else are survivalists and can see the writing on the wall.
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