During a town hall meeting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Sen. Marco Rubio was questioned by a voter about his position on legalizing internet poker and online gambling.
“That problem with that, I’m very concerned about expanding gaming online … what I don’t want to see is internet casinos, because I have seen gambling addiction ruin families, I have seen gambling expansion ruin people’s lives,” Rubio said.
He admitted that he felt slightly different about online poker because it had some level of skill to it, rather than simply chance. Rubio said he wanted responsible regulation of online gambling instead of what he described as the “Wild West” approach of letting states pass their own laws.
Rubio’s remarks on the subject earned applause from the crowd, as he continued:
I’m very concerned about expansion of gaming in a way that reaches people beyond games of skill, so that’s what I’m open on. But I’m not open to expanding gambling online in a way that I think you’re going to find 17-year-olds and retirees and everyone in between running up huge, huge debt on their credit cards and on their lives and the expansion of gambling is very dangerous for the country.
Rubio co-sponsored legislation in June 2015 that would federalize gambling rules after the Justice Department loosened the interpretation of the existing Wire Act. That legislation is supported by Republican billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson, who has yet to signal his support for any candidate.
Rubio further detailed his position on online gambling an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in October.