Democratic Platform omits references to Web gaming, poker
5 September 2012
By Howard Stutz
The 70-page Democratic platform contains 12 references to the word "Internet" and the plank, "Internet Freedom" under the heading, "Advancing Universal Values."
How many of the Internet references pertain to legalizing Internet poker?
How many of the Internet references discuss the issue of Internet gaming?
A week after Republicans approved a platform that called for a "prohibition" on Internet gaming, the Democrats seemingly ignored the issue altogether.
Delegates to the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., gave their support to the party's platform Tuesday in the convention's opening session.
The platform promises to ensure that 98 percent of the U.S. would have availability to wireless Internet access. A separate plank committed to defend "Internet freedom," calling for development of the Internet "as a platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation in the 21st century."
Poker and gaming were not mentioned.
The move was somewhat frustrating to Internet poker proponents and Nevada's major casino companies, many of which are asking Congress to approve federal legislation that would legalize and regulate online poker in the United States.
Gaming experts believe Nevada could be the center of a regulated American Internet gaming market.
John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization, said the Democratic platform was at least better than the Republican counterpart, which sought to block Internet gaming and called for reversing December's re-evaluation of the Federal Wire Act, which is allowing states to offer various forms of Internet gaming except sports wagering.
Pappas said he didn't think the omission of Internet poker language reflects the party's position on the issue.
"Countless Democratic members of Congress have expressed their support of a licensed and regulated online poker market in the U.S. and we are working diligently to advance legislation to make this a reality," Pappas said. "With so many issues drawing hard lines in the sand between Democrats and Republicans this year, this is one issue that is naturally bipartisan."
After the Republican Party approved the anti-Internet poker language, top GOP elected leaders in Nevada, including Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., distanced themselves from the platform.
Nevada Democrats took a similar view Tuesday.
Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who is challenging Heller for his Senate seat, said she has long advocated legalizing Internet gaming because the activity could create jobs in Nevada.
"We need a federal solution that would create common-sense oversights for Internet gaming instead of having 50 different laws in 50 different states," Berkley said through a campaign spokeswoman. "I will continue to lead efforts and work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle toward a solution that would allow legalized Internet gaming across the country."
Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said, "Senator Reid believes legalizing online poker remains important for Nevada and he will continue to work on this issue."
The Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association declined to comment on the Democratic platform. The organization declined to comment last week on the Republican platform.
American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., who oversees the industry's lobbying on Capitol Hill, was chairman of the Republican Party from 1983 to 1989.
Reid, and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., agreed in July on a framework for legislation to regulate online poker. The bill would also strengthen laws prohibiting sports wagering and other traditional casino games on the Internet.
Reid has said Republican votes were needed to push online legislation through Congress. He asked Heller to round up GOP support.
A Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said GOP support for the Reid-Kyl bill is lacking. At least 15 Republican senators are needed to support the bill. So far, the only two firm "yes" votes are Kyl and Heller.