Two online poker bills are before the US Congress that could reform the laws and authorize a nationally regulated online poker market. The online poker bills are the latest attempt to legalize the game after previous legislation was voted down by staunch anti-poker lawmakers.
One of the leading critics of online poker is Senator John McCain, a former Presidential candidate who once supported imprisoning Americans who bet on online poker sites. Earlier this week during a Congressional hearing on Syria, McCain was caught playing poker on his iPhone, and poker supporters immediately began to question the Senator’s credibility.
In McCain’s defense, he was playing a free money poker app that is downloadable to most smartphones. The game does not accept real-money wagers, which McCain’s spokespeople argue is a method of entertainment instead of gambling.
However, given McCain’s tough position against legalizing internet and digital poker, poker players accuse the Senator of being a hypocrite. Wayne Allyn Root, a successful gambling executive in Las Vegas and one-time Vice Presidential candidate, believes McCain’s actions discredit his opposition to online poker, despite the iPhone game being a free money game.
“It doesn’t matter that it is free play, because it would have had to be free play or he would have to go to jail.”
Back in 1998, McCain was one of the most outspoken supporters of the Internet Gambling Amendment and voted for the legislation. If the bill had passed, Americans would be subjected to $500 fines or 3 months in prison for knowingly gambling online. The bill was defeated, but lived on through its 2006 successor which effectively banned online gambling, and subsequently led to the Black Friday poker scandal.
Root argues that McCain is unable to brush off the brewing scandal as an insignificant distraction because he has not changed his stance towards online poker since 1998. Root and other supporters like him argue that McCain’s actions are indeed hypocritical to his opinions.
“McCain supported prison terms for making a bet on your own computer, with your own money, in your own . He also supported banning betting on college games in Las Vegas, even though it has been legal and popular in Nevada for half a century.”
The Senator jokingly tweeted his belief that the brewing scandal will dissolve on its own, but online poker supporters are determined to keep the story alive.