Would President Hillary Clinton Be Good or Bad for Gambling? We Check Her Record

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Would President Hillary Clinton Be Good or Bad for Gambling? We Check Her Record

Many people believe that if HIllary Clinton is elected President of the United States, her presidency will be a replay of the presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton, since they have similar views on so many issues.

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If that turns out to be the case, it will likely be a disaster for the gambling industry, especially the nascent online  gambling industry.

When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, in the 1980s, he opposed the establishment of casinos in the state.

And when he was President of the United States, in the 1990s, he initiated the Federal government crackdown on Americans citizens who were running Internet casinos and sportsbooks.

Bill Clinton was directly responsible for the "Internet 21," the first group of Americans charged by his attorney general, Janet Reno, in 1998 with illegally operating online gambling sites.

A few weeks later, President Clinton had Reno charge more Americans with the same crime.

Bill Clinton had declared war on Internet gambling and the fight has continued since, through two more presidencies.

Would a President Hillary Clinton continue the jihad against online gambling?

What about gambling in general?

For answers to those and other similar questions, Gambling 911, as part of its continuing series on the 2016 Presidential hopefuls and their views on gambling, examined the public record of Hillary Clinton, 68, who has served as First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. senator from New York and U.S. Secretary of State (for previous articles in the series, click the POLITICS link on the Gambling 911 home page).

Here's what we found:

Hillary's first public stance on a gambling issue took place back in 1984, when she was First Lady of Arkansas.

She went on a speaking tour of the state, speaking out against an upcoming ballot referendum that would have amended the state constitution to allow casino gambling in Arkansas.

Arkansas at one time had casinos--most notably in Hot Springs, when Bill Clinton was growing up there--but they were quasi-legal and eventually were shut down, leaving the Razorback State without casinos in recent decades.

Hillary's speaking tour was successful--the ballot initiative was defeated.

But was she really that against casinos, or was she just parrotting the view of her husband, the governor?

Perhaps, but some might be inclined to believe that someone as strong-willed as Hillary Clinton wouldn't take such a public stand on an issue unless she herself actually agreed with it.

Her views on casino gambling became clearer years later, in 2000, when she was running for U.S. senator from the State of New York.

During a campaign debate with her Republican opponent, Congressman Rick Lazio, the debate moderator asked her, "Americans spend millions at the local casino in Niagara Falls, Canada. Why not have a casino built on this side of the border to help our economy?"

While Lazio opposed the idea, saying he was "not a big fan of gambling," Hillary spoke up in support of the idea.

"I know how hard the people in Niagara are working to try to turn their economy around, and if they believe that a casino would help attract more tourists back, I would support that," she said. "I leave that to their judgment. But there has to be more of a strategy about the upstate economy--tax credits to help jobs be created and creating the regional skills, alliances and commitment to work force development."

Her pro-casino comments came on the heels of similar comments she had made earlier in the campaign, in regard to building a casino in Monticello, N.Y.

“Hillary believes that the development of a casino at the Monticello Raceway can be the spark for economic growth in the Catskills, and she supports it,” campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson told reporters at the time.

Both casinos were eventually built.

As a U.S. senator, she had one key vote in connection with Internet gambling.

In 2006, she voted in favor of passing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, known as UIGEA, which made it difficult for Americans to fund online gambling by making it illegal for banks, credit card companies and other American financial institutions to process financial transactions involving Internet betting.

However, UIGEA was an add-on to a larger and more comprehensive Senate bill that dealt with port security, meaning that senators couldn't oppose UIGEA without opposing the whole bill, and in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, few senators wanted to do that, fearing it would make them look soft on terrorism.

The bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, and remains the main reason today that online gamblers in most states cannot use credit cards to fund their pastime.

In 2008, however, during Hillary Clinton's second term as U.S. senator, she voiced her support for a study to determine whether online gambling could be regulated properly to promote U.S. businesses in the industry, while making sure that proper safeguards were in place to protect minors and address other issues.

Also in 2008, she made her first run for the Democratic nomination for President.

The Nevada Caucus was the fourth contest of the primary election process and in the state where gambling issues are more important than anywhere else, she lost the caucus to an unknown senator from Illinois named Barack Obama, who would go on to win the nomination and the presidency.

Now it's 2015 and Hillary Clinton is again running for President.

If she were to win, would President Clinton II be good or bad for gambling?

Like many of the other candidates running, she's a mixed bag on the issue.

She's against gambling.

Except when she's for it.

By Tom Somach

Gambling 911 Staff Writer


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