Let's make gambling an election issue

Jan 28, 2008 |
Let's make gambling an election issue

As a Canadian company serving primarily American customers, we at SportsDirect have an unfortunately large amount at stake when it comes to American politics - especially during elections. Simply put, anything that changes the American political and legal landscape can have a huge effect on our business.

Therefore, we spend an embarrassingly large amount of time watching political news shows. From the Sunday morning buffet of George Stephanopoulos, Tim Russert, and Chris Wallace, to the late night foolishness of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. You name it. We follow it all because we have to.

At least this obsession this gives us a pretty strong base of knowledge from which to develop informed political opinions.

Naturally, we are slightly biased towards politicians we believe will bring a positive change to our industry. Viewing the current state of our industry in America, it isn't a stretch for us to think that change is good.

From our standpoint, that means we have been internally pulling for a candidate we thought represented the biggest change. For the last few months we have thought that candidate was Barack Obama. But some recent news has caused us to reconsider our opinion.

While we have generally shied away from supporting Hillary Clinton - does she really represent change? - we might have a new reason to give her a second look as a candidate for gamblers to support.

As you probably have heard, last week saw the Nevada Caucus as part of the Democratic Party's search for a Presidential candidate. At first, I kind of giggled at the idea of polls located in casinos, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of having potential leaders being forced to expose their opinions on gambling. And it was an eye-opener.

Take a look at this story from the Los Angeles Times.

I'll give you a short summary. Hillary's team went into the Nevada Caucus guns-a-blazin'. They dug up some old quotes from Obama where he expressed some pretty strongly negative opinions about gambling in general.

Of particular concern are these quotes:

  • From 2003... "moral and social cost of gambling, particularly in low-income communities, could be devastating."
  • From 2001... "you'll have a whole bunch of people who can't afford gambling their money away, yet they're going to do it."

Both of these quotes underscore an uneducated view of the gambling industry from Barack Obama. Yes, some people have gambling problems. Yes, some of those people are in low-income brackets. But to draw a correlation between low-incomes and gambling is simply incorrect. It makes a baseless assumption that people with low-incomes are somehow more prone to problem gambling than others. This simply isn't true.

Admittedly, you have to take these quotes from Obama with a certain amount of skepticism. They were produced by the Clinton team - a team renowned for its ability to play dirty politics when necessary. Also, they are quotes from a time before Obama was even in the Senate. He was young, inexperienced and obviously ill-informed.

Obama seems like a smart man, and presumably he now has a bit more experience and has witnessed first-hand the benefits that regulated gambling can offer society, from increased tax revenues for social programs to simply being a harmless, if occasionally expensive, source of entertainment for adults with expendable income. Obama is rumored to be an avid poker player and to his credit he backed away from his historical comments when lightly questioned.

On the other side, Hillary has some pretty strong ties to the gambling industry. The above article lists a litany of Clinton fund raisers and advisers with ties to the gambling industry.

So where

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