Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has tweeted that online poker should be made legal in all fifty states in order to raise tax revenues and protect players.
Andrew Yang is a Democratic presidential candidate whose primary policies include a universal basic income of $1,000 per month, Medicare for all, and human-centered capitalism in which “the economy works for Americans – not the other way around”. Although considered to be an outsider for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Yang´s popularity among social media users is huge.
On Saturday, Yang sent a tweet in favor of legalizing online poker in all fifty states and using the tax revenues generated by legalization to address the issue of problem gambling. Within twenty-four hours, the tweet attracted 30,000 likes, nearly 5,000 retweets, and more than 1,200 comments – including many in support of the policy from the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Phil Galfond, and Liv Boeree.
Online poker is legal in 4 states. The state-by-state rules are variable and push many players to offshore sites. We should clarify the rules and make it legal in all 50 states. US players and companies would benefit and new tax revenues could be used to mitigate addiction.
— Andrew Yang? (@AndrewYang) October 26, 2019
Yang Agrees to Appear on Ingram Podcast
Another high-profile player to pick up on Yang´s tweet was Joey Ingram. Ingram is famous for – among other things – his Poker Life podcasts, and almost immediately Ingram tweeted a message to Yang inviting him to appear on a podcast. Almost just as immediately, Yang replied saying he would love to sit down with him and discuss concerns about the lack of regulation and problem gambling.
Thanks Joey. Would love to sit down. ?
— Andrew Yang? (@AndrewYang) October 27, 2019
Ingram´s podcasts are the perfect platform for Yang to promote his policies. The Poker Life series of podcasts has been downloaded more than a million times and are widely shared. If Yang can get the attention of poker players who might have supported other Democratic presidential candidates, they might investigate his other policies, which will only improve his chances of selection.
Other Candidates Might Also Weigh In on Online Poker
If Yang´s appearance on Joey Ingram´s podcast is well received, the likelihood exists that other presidential candidates might copy his policy for regulating online poker nationwide. As one contributor to a Reddit thread wrote “Monkey see, monkey do”; and, if the nationwide regulation of online poker gains traction as an election issue, I can see the policy receiving greater attention.
There will naturally be some pushback against the policy from anti-gambling organizations and states that want to control their own gambling regulations. However, there is a lot of sense in the idea of the federal government raising finances from online poker to tackle problem gambling issues enhanced – in some people´s opinion – by the widespread state regulation of other gambling verticals.
How Likely is a Policy of Nationwide Regulation to Succeed?
The chances of nationwide online poker regulation becoming a reality are less likely than those for Andrew Yang being chosen as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 (currently around +1600). Nonetheless, anything that can be done to raise the profile of online poker regulation is a good thing – and if the conversation raises awareness of problem gambling, that´s only better.
Ultimately it´s going to take more than a few politicians and a few thousand poker players talking about it to make a difference. Gambling operators and state legislators don´t see online poker as a great money-making opportunity and prefer to focus on online sports betting and casinos. All the time this situation persists, there´s not going to be any lobbying at federal level for the laws to change.
What Yang´s policy needs to drive it forward is a grassroots movement supported by the online gambling industry. It would have to be more effective than the last one (which allegedly still exists) and promote what´s best for players, rather than its corporate sponsors. Or, as Yang would say – “an online poker economy that works for players – not the other way around”. I look forward to hearing what he has to say on Joey Ingram´s podcast.