The debate over whether or not Internet gambling should be legalized nationwide has created a rift within the Republican Party and is making for strange bedfellows across the political aisle, according to one insider.
Last month, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced bills titled the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, S. 2159 and H.R. 4301, which would effectively prohibit all forms of Internet gambling. The original Wire Act, written in 1961, was aimed primarily at stopping the use of wire communications in sports betting.
Michelle Minton, director of "Sindustry Studies" at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on NewsmaxTV that the bills have rankled Republicans in support of states' rights as well as other forms of legalized gambling.
"Well [on one side] you have a traditional conservative and Republican value in states' rights, the ability for states to regulate economic things within their own borders," Minton said.
"Then you have somebody from Las Vegas, Sheldon Adelson, a very, very wealthy man, the 11th wealthiest person in the world and a prominent GOP donor, who has said he'll spend whatever it takes to stop online gambling from being legalized."
The bills haven't just divided Republicans, Minton says. Democrats have also drawn battle lines on the issue.
"The coalition's that are forming up on the other side… is very interesting as well," she said. "You have Democrats supporting states' rights, which as I mentioned before it's traditionally a GOP value, and you've got Democrats standing up for businesses because there are plenty of casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and others that want to get into online gambling. They want it to be legalized so that they can move into that industry."
So far only three states, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware, have legalized Internet gambling.
According to Minton, none of the men believed to have interest in running for president in 2016 have weighed in to support or oppose the bills.
"As far as I know [Sen. Rand Paul] hasn't," Minton said. "Many people haven't weighed in on this yet, including people like Governor Chris Christie whose state recently legalized online gambling, he signed a bill legalizing online gambling, just because it really hasn't picked up too much steam yet."