Read Which Five Anti-Online Gaming Politicians Are Up for Reelection in 2020

Just Nine Politicians Remain from the PPA's 2014 List of Those Opposed to Online Gaming

Back in 2014, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) published a list of ‘political jokers’ who opposed legalizing online poker.

The list featured governors, senators and several politicians who were seeking re-election in the 2014 US midterm election, and had advocated for federal and/or state prohibitions for online poker according to the PPA.

Along with making the list public, the PPA urged readers to contact these lawmakers before Election Day.

Ahead of the upcoming US election this November, PokerNews revisits the list to see how many of them are still active in US politics.

Flashback: PPA Releases List of Lawmaker “Jokers” (2014)

Chaffetz Out; Graham Remains

The two biggest names atop the original list were Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

In March 2014, they were responsible for introducing legislation that sought to pass a federal online gambling ban.

Although Rep. Chaffetz retired in 2017, Sen. Graham still holds on to his position as United States Senator that he has held since 2003.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

Rick Scott served as Florida governor from 2011 to 2019, before winning the Florida Senate election in November 2018.

“Although a national ban would be a better approach, I support a ban on internet gaming in Florida.”

Scott has previously made his views on online poker very clear, stating in a tweet in 2014 that he supported not only a ban on internet gaming in Florida, but thought that a national ban “would be a better approach.”

But you’d wrong to picture Scott as a sworn enemy of gambling, as the Senator’s concerns don’t seem to apply to the offline side it.

Two years prior to his anti-gambling statement, whilst serving as Florida governor, Scott received a $250,000 check from gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson to help his “Let’s Get to Work” political action committee.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Former Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.) was one of nine co-sponsors of the ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act‘ bill in 2014.

That list carried a particular significance for gambling since seven out of nine co-sponsors were included in the PPA’s list of “political jokers.”

Five of them are still active in US politics, with Sen. Lankford – the most senior of them – having been elected in November 2014.

Who Remains?

In addition to the three senators, the list now holds four members of the House of Representatives, a State Senator, and a Governor.

2014 2020
Congressmen 16 4
Senators 1 3
Governor 2 1
Gubernatorial Candidate 2
State Representative 1
State Senators 1
Retired 13

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are the only two survivors up for re-election who co-sponsored the ‘Restoration of America’s Wire Act‘ in 2014.

They are joined by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

Former Pennsylvania representative Mario Scavello is now a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate.

Online gamblers and poker players might remember his Italian-sounding names as Scavello made headlines in 2014, when he proposed legislation that would criminalize online gambling.

Luckily enough, the state of Pennsylvania did not go the Scavello Route and is now at the forefront of US legalised gaming with a handful of PA poker sites and PA online casinos already in the market.

Gov. Greg Abbott

PPA’s ‘Political Joker’ and former Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott is also still at the core of the US’ public life, as he currently serves as the governor of Texas.

The state is no closer to legalizing online poker, with Abbott opposed to any form of expanding legal gambling in Texas.

Who’s Gone?

There are a total of 13 members of the “political jokers” list that are no longer in politics. 11 of them are former members of the House of Representatives, one is a former State Attorney General, and one a State Governor:

  • Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley – lost gubernatorial election 2014
  • Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) – did not seek re-election 2014
  • Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) – lost election 2016
  • Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) – resigned 2017
  • Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) – resigned 2018
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) – did not seek re-election 2018
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) – retired 2018
  • Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) – stepped down from role as US Ambassador to the UN 2018
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) – did not seek re-election; failed presidential campaign 2020
  • Rep. Steve King (R-IA) – lost primary 2020
  • Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Il) – lost primary 2020
  • Rep. George Holding (R-NC) – did not seek re-election 2020

Four people on this list either lost their 2020 primaries or did not seek re-election in 2020.

Rep. Steve King lost his primary election to Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra – but that isn’t necessarily good news for online poker in Iowa.

Feenstra has previously stated that legalizing online gambling will cause “a lot more societal problems to occur” and is also seen as one that will continue to oppose any forms of market regulations.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski lost his primary election to Marie Newman, while Rep. George Holding’s did not seek re-election. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also did not seek re-election after embarking on a failed presidential campaign.

Who’s Up for Election in 2020?

Four members of the original 2014 list of Political Jokers are up for re-election in 2020, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Candidate Primary General Election 2018%
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) House 2nd District, IA November 3rd December 5th 80.6%
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D) House 5th District, MO August 4th November 3rd 61.7%
Rep. Jim Jordan (R) House 4th District, OH April 28th November 3rd 65.3%
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) House 1st District, TX March 3rd November 3rd 72.3%
Sen. Lindsey Graham(R) SC June 9th November 3rd 60.6%


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