Where The 2016 Presidential Field Stands on Gambling: Marco Rubio

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America’s next president will likely face no shortage of critical gambling-related policy decisions, including:

  • What role should the federal government play in regulated online gambling?
  • How will expanded gambling impact tribal casinos, and how should their administration respond?
  • Should the DOJ 2011 Wire Act opinion stand?

This ongoing series explores 2016’s emerging field of presidential contenders and 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, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush complete, we continue with our series with the current number three on Paddy Power’s list: Florida Senator Marco Rubio at 12/1.

Marco Rubio’s political history with gaming

“Casinos are not the miracle solution to our economic problems.” – Marco Rubio, December 2011.

Land-based gaming

As Speaker of the House in Florida, now-U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was “adamantly opposed to any expansion of gambling in Florida.”

In 2005, Rubio opposed a measure to allow casino-style slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Many in opposition to the measure, including Rubio, were concerned about the effect it would have on the expansion of gaming in the rest of the state.

Rubio also voted against legislation in 2007 to amend Florida’s rules and regulations regarding the operation of slot machine facilities.

Notably, as Speaker, Rubio sued Florida Governor Charlie Christ, claiming the governor exceeded his authority by unilaterally negotiating a compact with the Seminole Tribe. Rubio argued that the compact required legislative approval.

In 2010, the Seminoles reached a deal with the state, with the legislature’s involvement, whereby the Seminoles agreed to give Florida $1bn over five years in exchange for the exclusive right to offer blackjack, baccarat and chemin de fer through 2015 and the exclusive right to operate slot machines in the state with the exception of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Online gaming

With respect to Internet gaming, Rubio was quoted by the Las Vegas Sun in 2012 as saying “I’m not a big fan of expanding gaming on the Internet, especially for revenue purposes.”

Predictions for federal gambling policy under a Rubio administration

  1. As Senator, Marco Rubio has not had to vote (yet) on Senator Lindsey Graham’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act. But given his statements opposing Internet gaming, it is likely this legislation (or similar legislation) may garner Senator Rubio’s support.
  2. It is clear that any federal legislation expanding Internet gaming would not have support from a Rubio administration in the White House – not only has Rubio stated his opposition to Internet gaming publicly, a President Rubio would likely view any expansion of Internet gaming as a states’rights issue.

Image credit: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.

- 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.
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