Marco Rubio as Vice-President: A Bad Bet for All Concerned

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Marco Rubio

Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination for President of the United States, the most talked about name for Vice-President on the G.O.P. ticket is Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio, 40, from suburban Miami, started his political career as a local legislator, serving as a Miami City Commissioner.

He then moved up to the state legislature, serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives and eventually rising to the post of Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

In 2010 he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Now the rising young star of the Republican Party is being touted by many to take the No. 2 spot on the national ticket in 2012, regardless of who is in the No. 1 spot.

The main reason for this push is Rubio's ethnic appeal: as a Cuban-American, it's thought he could get Hispanics, who generally vote Democratic, to vote Republican in next year's presidential election.

And at the very least, it's thought he would practically guarantee that the G.O.P. ticket in 2012 captures the key swing state of Florida, a state that turned out to be the most important one electorally in the 2000 presidential election 

Vice-President Rubio?

It could happen.

And if it does, it's not such a longshot that he could eventually be President Rubio, in charge of all U.S. policy (four of the last nine U.S. Presidents served as Vice-President first).

In consideration of that fact, Gambling911.com examined Rubio's record on the issues this website's readers care about most--gambling issues.

And that record is clear: Rubio is no friend of the gambling industry.

In fact, he's quite the foe.

Even worse, he's a hippocritical foe, accepting campaign donations from gambling interests while at the same time telling them to go to hell. 

It's a bizarre record of political fear and loathing of gambling combined with a lust for political campaign dollars provided by gambling.

Whether it's because of his strict religious Catholic background or the fact that he spent ages 8-14 living in Las Vegas or something else, Rubio's record shows that he is one of the most anti-gambling politicians in the country, a stance that would not bode well for U.S. gambling interests should he be elected to higher office.


As a local Miami pol, Rubio didn't have much interaction with gambling issues. 

And he's only been a U.S. senator for less than a year, so his gambling record is quite bare there too.

But in between those two political stints, as a member of the state legislature for nine years (and a few as Speaker), Rubio amassed quite a record on gambling and it ain't pretty.

He opposed gambling in the State of Florida at every turn 

Despite that, he didn't mind accepting large political donations from gambling entities in the state, such as horse and dog racing tracks.

Here's what our investigation into Rubio's record on gambling revealed:

According to Florida media reports, in 2007 Florida's then-Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a bill that expanded gambling within the state. 

The legislation, among other things, allowed bingo halls to sell instant lottery tickets similar to tickets offered by the state-run Florida Lottery, permitted racetracks to add slot machines and automated teller machines and allowed poker rooms to increase hours and limits and add dominoes as a form of gambling.

Rubio, then Florida's Speaker of the House, vigorously opposed the legislation and issued a statement blasting it. 

That statement read in part: "A terrible hand is being dealt Florida's families and the dealers are dealing from the bottom of the deck. The gambling industry in Florida, emboldened by the departure of Governor Jeb Bush, has pushed aggressively to expand their enterprise...

"I spent six years of my childhood in Las Vegas. I know the people who play slot machines and they aren't the high rollers glamorized on television and the movies. In Las Vegas, there are slot machines in every grocery store and 7-Eleven. It's the most sinister form of gaming, because they literally nickel and dime the least among us down to their last dollar.

"No matter, say the pro-gambling forces. 'We can tax it,' they say. I believe this logic is flawed and, more importantly, morally indefensible. It is wrong for those of us elected to serve the common good to disregard the mounds of evidence and research against gambling, look the other way, and give an ends justifies the means argument for expanded gambling...

"Moreover, we know the negative and illicit satellite industries gambling generates (such as) crime, drug use, divorce and addiction...Despite the fact that I vocally opposed legislation expanding gambling and voted against these measures, the gambling industries convinced enough legislators to pass pro-gaming bills. I will be more steadfast and diligent in my final term as Speaker to oppose gambling legislation..."

Later in 2007, Crist negotiated a deal with Florida's Indian tribes that allowed expanded gambling at tribal casinos.

The casinos, located on Indian reservations, offered poker and bingo and little else--the new deal allowed them to add games such as slot machines, blackjack and baccarat.

In exchange, the State would collect in taxes a large chunk of the tribal casinos' profits.

Rubio opposed the deal and as Speaker sued Crist on behalf of the House, saying the governor didn't have the right to unilaterally negotiate such a deal without the state legislature's input, especially since the deal allowed the tribes to offer forms of gambling not allowed elsewhere in the state. 

In 2008, the Florida State Supreme Court sided with Rubio and voided the deal Crist made with the tribes.

Rubio later told the Miami Herald: "There is a real moral issue with asking government to expand its operations to be increasingly dependent on an activity we should be discouraging, not encouraging. It's fool's gold. Gambling appears to be an easy solution to a big problem. Those who support it misunderstand.

"Unlike taxes, this isn't about government telling people what they can do with their own money. This is about government becoming an invested partner in encouraging people to undertake an activity that we know disproportionately affects people who make less money and who are elderly. I don't want to live in a state where the government encourages people to gamble in order to fund more and more government operations."

Considering all of Rubio's efforts to block gambling in Florida, one would think he'd shun campaign donations from gambling interests, lest he'd be expected--or at least perceived--to be in the gambling interests' pocket.

But that's not the case--Rubio loves gambling money as much as Charlie Sheen loves cocaine.

For example, according to public documents examined by Gambling911.com, Rubio in the 2006 campaign cycle received $500 donations (the maximum allowed under law) from two horse tracks and two dog tracks. 

Asked to explain the discrepancy between opposing gambling but accepting gambling monies, Rubio told a Florida political blog: "My contributors buy into my agenda. I don't buy into theirs. I have consistently opposed gaming and they chose to contribute to my efforts nonetheless." 


Yes, with a capital H!

And it continues into Rubio's reign as a U.S. senator. 

Despite his unwavering opposition to all things gambling, Rubio a few months ago made a very public wager.


As the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls prepared to meet in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals, Rubio and fellow Florida Senator Bill Nelson bet Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk on the outcome of the series.

If the Heat won, the Illinois pols would have to pony up a selection of local Chicago delicacies, including cheescake and deep dish pizza.

If the Bulls won, the Florida politicians would have to deliver Miami delicacies, including key lime pie and Cuban pastries.

Fortunately for Rubio, the Heat won and he didn't have to pay off.

But the question remains: If you're so against betting, why bet?

On anything?

A person who hates cats usually doesn't own one. 

And someone who hates spinach usually doesn't eat it.

So why would anyone who hates gambling gamble?

Should Rubio get the nod for Veep, that's one question he's going to have to eventually answer.

And that's a sure bet 

By Tom Somach

Gambling911.com Staff Writer


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