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Where The 2016 Presidential Field Stands on Gambling: Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush
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The outlook for gaming in Congress has certainly changed following the midterms.

Republicans gained control of the Senate and picked up a larger majority in the House.  It’ll be interesting to see whether the Restoration of America’s Wire Act will gain momentum as a result.

Now that the 2014 midterms are officially behind us, 2016 is practically here. America’s next president will likely face no shortage of critical gambling-related policy decisions, including:

  • What is the role of the federal government in the expanding world of Internet gaming?
  • How will expanded regional commercial gaming and Internet gaming impact tribal gaming and how should their administration respond?
  • Should the DOJ 2011 Wire Act opinion stand?

This ongoing series breaks down each candidate’s history with gambling, taking its order from Paddy Power’s 2016 Presidential Election odds maker.

With our profiles of Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie complete, our focus turns to the main at number two (jumping ahead of Christie, who tumbled to 5th post-midterms, now at 12-1): former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 8/1.

Jeb Bush’s political history with gaming

“Florida is a family-friendly, wholesome, prosperous place” and “gambling doesn’t have a part in that.” – Jeb Bush, May 2008.

Land-based gaming

In 2005, then-Governor of Florida Jeb Bush campaigned in opposition to the measure to allow casino-style slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.  Many in opposition to the measure, including Bush, were concerned about the effect it would have on the expansion of gaming in the rest of the state.

In 2008, Bush fought against a Miami-Dade measure to allow slot machines at racetracks (the measure was ultimately successful).

Bush also pushed a 1999 ban on state leases to gambling cruise ships, preventing the ships from docking in Florida.

After leaving office, Bush seemed to recognize that gaming expansion was possible, or even inevitable in the Sunshine State.

In 2011, Bush acknowledged the lure of tax revenue could lead to an expansion in Florida, adding “I opposed gambling expansion, but I’m not governor anymore.”

Online gaming

In March of this year, Bush was the featured speaker at an exclusive VIP dinner in Las Vegas hosted by Sheldon Adelson and his wife.

The dinner was the kickoff dinner for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s four-day spring leadership meeting which included appearances other potential 2016 contenders such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Predictions for federal gambling policy under a Jeb Bush administration

  1. Of the top Republican candidates, Bush may be the most likely to roll back the Obama administration’s policy on off-reservation tribal gaming. During President George W. Bush’s administration, the Department of the Interior instituted a policy to reject off-reservation land-in-trust applications for land more than 100 miles from the tribal reservation. I expect Jeb Bush would take a similar position.
  2. There is likely little chance a 3rd Bush administration would support any form of federal internet gaming expansion legislation.
  3. If anything, a Bush administration in 2016 would support legislation such as Restoration of America’s Wire Act. However such legislation might not even be necessary as the Bush administration’s DOJ could backtrack from the DOJ’s 2011 Wire Act opinion.

Image credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr.

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Eric D. Frank
- Eric D. Frank, associate of the law firm Duane Morris LLP, concentrates his practice in the areas of gaming and regulatory matters for both land-based and Internet gaming clients. Duane Morris has both a national and international presence in the gaming industry. Frank's gaming practice expands beyond commercial casino gaming and includes representative matters in Indian gaming and the lottery and horse racing industries. Frank is a regular author on Duane Morris’ unique Gaming Law Blog.