Leaving aside all other political issues, online gamblers all across America took notice in mid-July when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential pick.
Despite occupying the top executive position within Indiana – which includes brick and mortar casinos, pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, and a state lottery among its economic engines – Pence has long been opposed to the gambling industry on all levels.
In May of 2014, shortly after the Sheldon Adelson-backed federal online poker ban known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was introduced, Pence penned a letter to Indiana’s congressional delegation urging the lawmakers to vote in favor of outlawing online poker across the U.S.
In the letter, Pence made his stance on online gambling, poker or otherwise, perfectly clear:
“I write regarding Internet gambling, which I have long opposed. When I served in Congress, I was pleased to support the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (“UIGEA”).
I believe it is necessary for Congress to restore the original interpretation of the Wire Act that prohibited Internet gambling nationwide, and I encourage you to support legislation that would accomplish this end.”
In a 2014 interview with the Indiana Business Journal, Pence – who became governor of Indiana in January of 2013 – outlined his overall approach to governance in regards to Indiana’s established gambling industry:
“It’s never been the intention of my administration to promote policies that either expand or contract gaming in our state. But I’m going to make it very clear to legislators that our administration will not support any expansion of gaming in the state of Indiana.”
Despite this explicit rejection of land-based casino expansion in his state, Pence did exhibit a certain level of flexibility on gambling which took place outside of the internet. In 2015, he allowed a pair of gambling industry bills to become law, by virtue of declining to sign them into law or exercise his veto power.
The proverbial fence-straddling concerned a bill which allowed Indiana’s riverboat casinos to transfer their operations into land-based facilities, and deregulation of the horse racing industry.
Pence issued a statement to explain his newfound ambivalence to brick-and-mortar gambling:
“Most Hoosiers know that I oppose an expansion of gaming in Indiana, but I recognize that gaming has become an important part of the economy of many communities in our state and is an important part of our state budget,” said Governor Pence.
From early in the legislative process, I made it clear that I would not stand in the way of reforms that would allow these businesses to remain competitive with surrounding states so long as it did not constitute an expansion of gaming in Indiana.”
Despite his relative acceptance of land-based gambling, or at least existing forms of the industry currently contributing to Indiana’s coffers, Pence remains steadfastly opposed to online gambling of any kind.
In 2015, he did choose to use his veto power on a third gaming expansion bill, one which proposed to allow residents of the state to place their horse racing wagers through online platforms.
Pence reiterated his rejection of online gambling in a statement following the veto:
“This legislation is contrary to my long-time position against online gaming.”
The presidential election takes place on November 8th of this year, with Pence occupying the Republican ticket’s vice presidential spot alongside candidate Donald Trump, and the two running against a Democratic ticket of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.