Mitt Romney Flip-Flops on Gambling: Was For, Now Against

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Mitt Romney in reports earlier this month revealed the anti-gambling histories of two major Republican Presidential candidates, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Perry is against all gambling while Bachman severely weakened a bill that would've legalized online gambling nationally).

But what about the Republican frontrunner, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney?

What is his stand on gambling?

Is he for it or against it?

In a word, he's both.

Or as another politician famously once said, "I was for it before I was against it." investigated Romney's record on gambling issues as Massachusetts governor and learned that early in his term as governor (he served from 2003-2007), he was for expansion of gambling in the state.

But later in his term, he had done a complete 180-degree reversal on the issue and was robustly against any new gambling in the Bay State.

And the reason for the flip-flop?

It was, Gambling911.learned, because he was considering a run for President, and conservatives in key primary and caucus states told him he'd never win unless he was anti-gambling!

According to news reports that appeared in the Boston Globe, the State of Massachusetts early in Romney's tenure faced a $3 billion budget deficit.

In order to help bridge that gap, Romney publicly said he supported expanding gambling in the state, which only had horse racing and dog racing and a state-run lottery.

Specifically, Romney favored slots parlors--casinos that only had slot machines, no table games (video poker machines were considered slots and thus allowed).

But midway through his tenure--and eyeing a run for President of the United States in 2008--he had reversed himself and opposed any new forms of gambling in the state.

In a letter to the editor from Governor Romney that appeared in the Globe on September 16, 2005, Romney stated: "A recent article predicted that a proposal may surface in the Legislature to expand legalized gambling in Massachusetts, and speculated on how I might react to it.

"The last time the Legislature seriously considered an expansion of gaming in Massachusetts, we were facing a $3 billion budget deficit. Since then, we have closed the budget gap without raising taxes and without resorting to new forms of gaming.

"In fact, over the last two years, we have run surpluses in the hundreds of millions of dollars I am not proposing, or even considering, an expansion of gaming. If someone were to bring forward a proposal, it is not something I would support given our economic circumstances and the social costs associated with gaming."

What made Romney see the anti-gambling light?

It was because, the Globe later reported, Republican leaders in the very conservative early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire told Romney he couldn't win contests in their states if he weren't wholeheartedly against all forms of gambling (in 2008 Iowa held the first caucus and New Hampshire held the first primary, both will be first again in 2012).

Romney ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008 and depending on your metric of preference, came in either second or third to eventual nominee John McCain, senator from Arizona.

Romney received the second-most votes after McCain and earned the third-most convention delegates after McCain and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee--the person who gets the most delegates, not votes, wins the nomination.

Romney is running again for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination, and since neither McCain nor Huckabee is running again, Romney is considered by many as the frontrunner this time around. 

That's a key distinction in Republican politics, because generally (and unlike Democrats), the early frontrunner usually wins the nomination.

Thus, facing the same early Iowa and New Hampshire hurdles in 2012 as he did in 2008, Romney has remained stoically anti-gambling (he hasn't publicly stated otherwise).

Rick Perry, Michele Bachman and Mitt Romney.

All firmly on the record against gambling.

So what's a Republican voter (who likes to gamble) to do?

It appears that Texas Congressman Ron Paul will be the only candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination who supports the public's right to gamble as it likes--he's even one of the few pols who supports legalizing all forms of online gambling nationally.

He's a long shot for the nomination for sure, but he's looking more and more like your only bet.

By Tom Somach Staff Writer

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