Former New York Governor George Pataki

George Pataki, co-chair of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, wants to run for president, but is he serious this time and does he stand a chance?

Former Republican New York Governor George Pataki, co-chair of Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has announced that he is “seriously considering” running for president in 2016.

Pataki dropped the bombshell this week in an interview with the Boston Globe, following a meeting with supporters in New Hampshire.

His credentials for the post derive from the fact that he “successfully ran one of the largest and most complicated governments in the country,” he said. “And in a blue state,” he added triumphantly.

Clearly warming to his theme, Pataki later took to Facebook to declare: “We’ve seen an explosion in government power from Washington and the government is far too big, far too powerful, far too expensive and far too intrusive, and the need to reform Washington dramatically and reduce its power and influence has never been greater.”

Pataki was Governor of New York for three consecutive four-year terms and is something of an anomaly in the Republican Party. As governor, he was praised for his commitment to the environment and expanding healthcare for poorer families.

He is pro-abortion and generally known to have more moderate social views than most of his colleagues in the GOP, and yet he is a passionately “small government” Republican.

Contradictions

These apparently contradictory views extend to gambling too. Ironically, in 2001 the New York Times called Pataki “perhaps the most pro-gambling governor the state has ever had.” During his tenure the New York lottery nearly tripled its annual revenue.

As well as overseeing the expansion the state lottery he pushed for the development a new tribal casino in western New York State, permitted slot machines to be installed in racetracks and was happy to turn to gambling solutions to plug budget deficits.

However, his position on online gambling is unequivocal. “It’s in my interests to prevent online gambling from exploding across this country,” he told CNBC recently. “It will have a tremendously negative impact on families and on jobs.

From my point of view I’m very concerned about the ability of organized crime organizations and terrorist organizations, criminal organizations that are transnational, to move money and launder money.

It’s a tremendous problem, it’s something the American people should debate before any change is made, and I think it’s just unfortunate that it is now apparently legal and some states are moving forward.

Pinch of Salt

“You can’t protect the consumer or the investor,” he added. “To think that someone sitting around in their home or their college dorm at 3 o’ clock in the morning after a bad night and deciding to put everything they own on double zero, to think that’s a good idea makes no sense at all. It’s bringing gambling into people’s homes.”

The fledgling regulated online gambling in the US should not be too concerned, however. Pataki’s declaration is being treated with a pinch of salt by most sections of the press.

Having left office in 2007, Pataki also “seriously considered” running for president in 2008 and 2012, but backed out.

Moreover, many commentators believe he lacks name recognition to get elected, while some of his more liberal social views don’t sit well with his fellow Republicans.

They also question his ability to raise sufficient funds to mount a successful campaign, although we imagine Adelson might be willing to spare him a dime or two.