Nearly 15% of voters in Representative Jim Leach's district in Iowa reported in a Poker Players Alliance (PPA) telephone survey that the congressman's stance on online gambling caused them to vote for his opponent during the election earlier this month.
The PPA, with the help of the polling organization RT Strategies Inc., conducted an automated telephone survey of 1,033 voters in the district. Of the respondents, 100% had voted this year, with 50% voting for the democrat candidate David Loebsack, 48% voting for Leach, and 2% couldn't remember who they voted for.
Thomas Riehle of RT Strategies told news sources, "This was an awful close race. It looks like on balance, Leach's position on Internet gambling hurt him more than it helped him."
Of those who were aware of Jim Leach's policy on online gambling and his hand in getting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed, 10% of the voters were strongly influenced by that information to vote to reelect the congressman, but 15% percent chose to vote against him based on that same information.
Of those who weren't aware of his work to ban online gambling, 12% said it would have influenced them to vote for the congressman, and 15% said it would have influenced them to vote for his opponent, with 25% staying neutral.
The survey also asked voters whether or not they played poker or played poker online, with a majority of them saying no to both. Only 20% of those surveyed said they played poker, and 3% said they played poker online.
Leach's defeat and the survey results could send out a message to politicians about the people's rights to gamble and play poker online. Michael Bolcerek said the PPA is emboldened by the election results and expects to help get a bill passed to study online gambling in the next 12 months, and the group thinks an exemption for poker in the UIGEA is in order as well.
The PPA isn't the only group hoping the shift in power in Congress because of the election will help the online gambling cause. Terry Lanni, MGM Mirage, Inc. chief executive, expressed company's hopes that the bill could be changed during the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this week.
According to Lanni, MGM will also be looking to reintroduce a bill into Congress that would commission a study of online gambling. The casino industry believes that the online gambling industry could be taxed, regulated and licensed, and the new leadership in the House and Senate could provide a much better opportunity to make that happen.
One of the changes in leadership is that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be the new Senate Majority Leader. It was the previous Republican Senate Majority Leader that made the final push to get the UIGEA attached to the SAFE Port Act to get it passed through this session of Congress.
Reid has expressed to the media that he doesn't believe in Internet gambling, but told reporters on Wednesday that he would be open to looking into a study on the subject.
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