GOP hopefuls Rick Santorum and George Pataki online gambling

Rick Santorum and George Pataki, two new GOP hopefuls for 2016, are not only joining the other Republican candidates in search of the party’s ticket, but also in their anti-online gambling views. (Image: cbsnews.com)

GOP hopefuls Rick Santorum and George Pataki are the newest members of the Republican Party to throw their hats into the ring for the 2016 presidential race, and much like the other six contenders who have officially announced their candidacy, both former lawmakers are against continued legalization of gambling and iGaming.

Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, and Pataki, the 53rd governor of New York, stressed less government, a reduced nanny state, and other conservative policies in speeches this week.

“Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money,” said the 57-year-old Santorum at a factory outside of Pittsburgh in Cabot, Pennsylvania. “I am proud to stand here among you and for you, the American workers who have sacrificed so much, to announce that I am running for president.”

In an address to supporters in New Hampshire, Pataki, 69, said the policies he implemented in New York while governor from 1995-2006 were successful.

“After 12 years of my conservative policies, we replaced dependency with opportunity, resignation with hope, mere existence with dreams, a welfare check with a paycheck. I know we can do the same thing for the United States,” he declared.

Less Government, Except for Gambling

Two of the founding tenets of the Republican Party include less government oversight and free market capitalism, and nearly all of the GOP hopefuls for the 2016 presidential election echo those sentiments. There is, however, one exception, that being where gambling and Internet betting are concerned.

When it comes to healthcare, the party line supports an open market that it says would better serve “we the people,” as doctors and patients should decide which plan is best instead of government. But when it comes to deciding on whether to play online poker or blackjack, most GOP candidates seem to move toward regulation, government oversight, or a downright ban.

It’s a rather firm stance that certainly seems to be in contradiction of the party’s basic platform.

During his 2012 election campaign, Santorum had this to say to Las Vegas Sun reporter Jon Ralston:

“Freedom’s not absolute… There are limitations. You might want to say the same thing about a whole variety of other things that are on the Internet, ‘let everybody have it, let everybody do it.’ No. There are certain things that actually do cost people a lot of money, cost them their lives, cost them their fortunes that we shouldn’t have and make available… That’s why we regulate gambling. You have a big commission here that regulates gambling, for a reason.”

Pataki shares Santorum’s concerns, and even supports RAWA, the bill backed by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson that would ban online gaming. At a Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling meeting in February, Pataki voiced his qualms with iGaming.

“They have said it’s going to be very difficult if not impossible to monitor this,” Pataki said. “Changing the law that was in effect for 20 years simply by a ruling of the Department of Justice, this is not in the American people’s best interest.”

GOP vs. Hillary

Unless Hillary Clinton makes a colossal mistake or something nearly criminal comes to light regarding her campaign, she is without question the leading favorite for the Democratic ticket. That means it will be Hillary vs. a large field of conservatives vying for a chance at the White House.

Though Democrats aren’t universally in favor of gambling expansion, and Clinton actually voted in favor of the SAFE Port Act and Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006, bills that prohibited online betting, the GOP constituents seem more adamantly opposed.

That’s something many gamblers will have to take into account come primary season, along with, of course, other pressing issues that affect our daily lives.