Frank Luntz is an expert when it comes to gathering political data, and this week he stressed that in order for the online gambling industry to gain support from elected leaders, proponents need to create a stronger, more unified message.
Delivering the keynote at GiGse 2015, an annual iGaming convention attended by more than 700 gaming professionals, Luntz emphasized the importance of online poker, gambling, and fantasy sports embracing a well-articulated argument that appeals to both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill.
“We’re trying to find language that transcends Democrats and Republicans,” Luntz said. “The chairman of the Judiciary (Committee) on the House side hates you guys.”
At the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) hearing last month, a bill that would effectively ban all online poker, US Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Judiciary Committee chairman said in his opening remarks that Internet gambling “causes bankruptcy and breaks up families,” and can even lead to suicide.
Luntz highlighted Goodlatte’s rather extreme correlation, telling his audience, “He basically calls you murderers, he accuses you guys of what he calls suicides, did he not?”
To combat such strong language from the opposition, Luntz is challenging industry leaders to come together with a cohesive message, and that narrative should be about emphasizing personal freedom. “It’s about personal freedom: the freedom to work, the freedom to play, the freedom to be entertained. The government shouldn’t tell you how to live,” Luntz preached.
In its fifth year, GiGse 2015 attracted many of poker’s most prominent executives to speak this week including John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance. Several of the addresses followed Luntz’s theme of personal responsibility and individual rights.
In an open letter regarding iPoker in California Pappas writes, “I can do my banking, shopping and even buy a home online. I can visit more than 100 brick-and-mortar poker rooms or casinos throughout the state and play poker. It makes no sense that I cannot enjoy the game I love online.”
But the GiGse wasn’t a lopsided affair like the March 26th RAWA hearing was as opponents to iGaming were also invited to speak, including Les Bernal, director of the Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation, and attorney Michael Fagan. Both Bernal and Fagan gave anti-gambling testimony to members of the House subcommittee during the RAWA hearing.
Luntz is a political consultant, Republican Party strategist, pollster, and public opinion guru who has years of experience gathering data on important issues. According to his research, “80 percent of Americans believe in the freedom to gamble. That’s the personal message.”
“What your opponents are communicating is denying the freedom to gamble. You’re about freedom and they’re about denial. That’s very specific,” Luntz concluded.
The debate between restoring America’s Wire Act to its pre-2011 interpretation has basically boiled down to deciding whether or not the people have the ability to gamble online safely and securely.
Though conservatives tend to be more concerned with individual responsibility than liberals, the subject of online poker has both parties scrambling to decide where to sit.
Underestimating the self-esteem, self-drive, and sense of self-responsibility of the American citizen has never been a solid platform. Luntz believes it’s time to express that sentiment appropriately.