Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the man with ties to anti-online poker advocate Sheldon Adelson, is reportedly eyeing up a 2016 presidential run.
The South Carolina politician hit the poker industry’s headlines this week after he cross-examined Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch about her stance on iGaming.
Asking whether she shared his view that online gambling is a hotbed for criminal activities such as money laundering, Graham once again proved that he is very much against the industry in general.
Unsurprisingly, Graham, a Republican, shares the same political perspective as GOP mega-donor Adelson. Over the last decade, the billionaire casino magnate has pledged more than $100 million to help put a Republican in the White House, without success, of course, and Graham may become his next GOP challenge.
At present, Graham hasn’t committed to a Presidential run in 2016, nor has Adelson pledged any financial support if he does; however, the Senator did tell the press yesterday that he is forming a political organization to explore a potential presidential campaign.
“What I’m looking at is, is there a pathway forward on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire for a guy like me? I don’t know until I look,” Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Entitled “Security Through Strength,” Graham’s political organization will be headed by David Wilkins, former US ambassador to Canada. This group will allow him to raise funds and travel across the country while gauging support for his political aspirations.
If Graham decides to fight for the top job in the White House, he’ll be one of 15 Republicans currently eyeing the position.
For the poker community, Graham’s possible run at the presidential position could be somewhat disconcerting. Over the last few years, Graham has been a strong opponent of the online gaming industry. Through a combination of his own views and that of his political ally Adelson, Graham has voiced his opposition to the industry at every opportunity.
In fact, during his questioning of Lynch, Graham promised to show her some “research” and data that supports his assertion that online gambling is a threat to US security.
Lynch steered clear of a direct response on the issue during her Q&A session this Congress week. Stating that she didn’t have the necessary information to “really analyze” the proposed “threat” of online gambling, Lynch appeared to be keeping a neutral stance on the issues. Adding to this, Lynch went on to say that terrorists won’t necessarily limit themselves to the virtual gaming world when it comes to funding their illegal enterprises.
“Would you agree that one of the best ways for a terrorist organization or criminal enterprise to be able to enrich themselves is to have online gaming that would be very hard to regulate?” asked Graham.
“I think certainly that with respect from those that provide material support and finance of a terrorist organization is that they will use any means to finance those organizations,” responded Lynch.
This apparent willingness to take a more measured approach to the online poker industry is one that could prove useful for the community in the coming months, if Lynch is given the Attorney General position. Although she has yet to be confirmed, Lynch is Barack Obama’s pick, as well as Graham’s, as he tweeted last night that he’s “inclined” to support her.
What the future holds for the US online poker community if Graham gets into office remains unclear, as does his chances of becoming the GOP nominee for the 2016 race. Would Graham as president set back US online poker? We have a long time and many decisions made before we can even begin to contemplate that one.