Senator Cory Booker Supports Online Poker

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) supports online poker

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) became the first candidate for the Democrat Party’s 2020 presidential nomination to support online gambling. The former mayor of Newark said he opposed the recent DOJ opinion banning interstate online poker and casinos.

It is early in the nominating process, but candidates are starting to take stances on many issues. In an interview with Megan Messerly of The Nevada Independent, Cory Booker backed online gambling.  Messerly asked the senator about, including marijuana legalization, the death penalty, poker expansion, and Yucca Mountain.

Booker replied, I support online gambling, and I’m a little frustrated that the federal government is doing things to inhibit the ability for gaming towns like Las Vegas and Atlantic City — and Reno — to conduct gambling in a safe and legal way.”

Gambling is not a partisan issue in the United States, unlike so many issues. Leaders in both parties view gambling-related votes as a “matter of conscience“. The whips in both parties don’t pressure lawmakers on gaming votes. For that reason, a person’s stance on gambling says a lot about how a lawmaker would govern, if ever they had that authority.

As a former mayor and a senator in New Jersey, Cory Booker witnessed the state’s rollout of online gambling in 2013. He’s seen the burgeoning new market face and overcome troubles, then grow into a $300 million industry. Cory Booker knows a regulated gambling market helps state treasuries and local casino operators alike.

Elizabeth Warren on Online Poker

With that in mind, the US gaming community took notice when Sen. Booker discussed online gambling and the DOJ opinion reversal in January. Previously, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) was the only candidate with a position on online gambling — and she supported restrictions.

Elizabeth Warren said she became aware of the arguments against gambling expansion in the early 2010s. That was the period when Massachusetts voters decided to approve land-based casinos.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts funded a series of studies from 2011 to 2014 to study expanded gambling.

Warren even sponsored an amendment to a Senate bill in 2015 to study gambling. She wanted to study of gambling problems on US military bases, which shows she has a history of gambling skepticism.

That being said, Warren declined to support an outright ban on online gambling. Warren stated that the online gambling issue presented “a whole new set of challenges.”

Sen. Warren added, “Online can completely undercut every protection that the state puts in place, and that’s my concern.”

Land Casino “A Very Different Thing from Online”

Megan Messerly interviewed Elizabeth Warren on Yucca Mountain and online gambling, too. When asked to elaborate on her position, Senator Warren explained, “Site-based gambling as a part of the vacation, as part of the destination, is a very different thing from online. And getting the appropriate restrictions in place so that children don’t have access, so that people who have problems with gambling don’t have access, are challenges that haven’t yet been addressed.”

It’s a disappointing stance in the point of view of the online gambling community, because it shows ignorance of the progress made. While Warren did not state her opinions so boldly, her arguments sounded similar to those made by Sen. Lindsey Graham.  Snator Graham made a series of outrageous claims when backing Restore America’s Wire Act. He suggested New Jersey online poker endangered South Carolina smartphone users, because they could gamble on NJ poker sites. (That’s not the case.)

Geolocation software or geo-fencing protects US states which ban online poker and online casinos. Their citizens can’t log-on to New Jersey online poker sites.

Lindsey Graham claimed that regulated New Jersey online gambling  supported organized crime and terrorism, because the revenues were not tracked. Those comments flew in the face of logic. Graham seemed to confuse regulated online poker with unregulated system, because that’s when revenues aren’t reported. Elizabeth Warren’s claims aren’t so egregious, but some complaints smack of fear-mongering.

Age verification software is advanced and improved, so underage gambling is not the problem Sen. Warren suggests it is.

Protections from Regulated Online Poker

Legalized and licensed online gaming sites have the same consumer protections and self-exclusion programs that land-based casinos have — and they work better. Furthermore, the helplines and hotlines mandated by pro-online gambling jurisdictions give problem gamblers and their families better resources than most land-based casinos do.

Online poker in particular is a different beast than playing the slots in a land-based casino. Poker certainly has its element of chance, but most card players see it as a game of skill. Pop culture depictions and TV poker shows portray card players making bold all-in calls and risking it all on one turn of the cards. That happens, but poker is a grinder’s game. It’s also a game which allows a player some control, unlike slot machines.

Corey Booker Supports Online Poker

It is absurd to think online poker is more dangerous than slots machines. People lose a lot more money in your average brick-and-mortar casino than they do at PokerStars. So it is gratifying to see Sen. Cory Booker support online gambling, even if Sen. Warren appears to be leaning the other direction.

Even Senator Warren might come around throughout the course of the campaign.

Megan Messerly, who is racking up a list of candidates she’s asked about online gambling, interviewed Elizabeth Warren about online gambling. Messerly said Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s stance on gambling could evolve during the campaign. She added, “Warren said she wants to hear more from stakeholders on the issue first.”

Online gambling won’t decide the 2020 presidential election. Most poker players are not one-issue voters, if they’re political at all. Devoted poker players want regulated online poker, because access to free and full online poker is a lifestyle issue. It makes gambling a matter of convenience, while providing the safety a regulated gaming market can provide. Seeing a candidate’s stance on online gambling tells a lot about that candidate — and could be a tiebreaker.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for more than a decade. He worked for Small World Marketing for years, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. He's covered US and international gambling news on,, and since 2014.


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