Skip to main content

Why Gambling and Gamblers Should Matter to the Libertarian Party

By May 19, 2008No Comments
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In the last year and a half that I’ve actively campaigned for the Libertarian Presidential nomination, I’ve traveled to 30 LP State Conventions and many major Libertarian events across this great country. I’ve gotten to know LP leaders and delegates from coast to coast. I’ve received thousands of emails from LP voters (and answered back almost every single one). And over the past 2 weeks, I’ve personally phoned hundreds of delegates to the LP Convention. What I’ve found, not surprisingly, is that Libertarians are not your typical American. We are far more intellectual and cerebral than the typical American. We read far more books than the typical American. We are populated by professions such as professor and engineer in far higher numbers than the American populace. And we seem to be populated with far fewer gamblers, poker enthusiasts, sports fans or sports gamblers than the populace as a whole. As a result, we travel far less frequently to Las Vegas. As a matter of fact, few Libertarians seem to recognize how popular gambling (and Las Vegas) is in American culture today. So it is my job to explain to my fellow Libertarians why gambling and gamblers are so important to the LP cause- and particularly the 2008 Presidential campaign.

America is a nation of risk-takers (otherwise known as gamblers). It is in our blood. We are all descended from the biggest risk-takers on this planet. Our ancestors were the ones willing to risk everything (including their lives) to travel thousands of miles, on a dangerous journey, to reach an unknown land (called “The New Worldâ€�), often leaving behind friends and family. In most cases, they arrived at Ellis Island without money or job prospects. That’s a greater risk than any gambler ever takes today (times one thousand). It was literally the gamble of a lifetime.

On the other end of the journey, our ancestors were told they were mad, crazy, insane, foolish, reckless, or even called traitors to their country of origin. The people who disdained risk all played it safe and stayed home in Russia, Europe, Asia and other countries. It was the wild risk-takers and big dreamers who threw caution to the wind to take the biggest gamble of their lives to travel thousands of dangerous miles to start a new life in a mysterious new land called America. So in fact, gambling is in the blood of most (if not all) Americans.

That would explain why we are the most gambling-crazed nation in the world. More money is risked on our stock markets (Wall Street) than any other place in the world. We are also a nation of entrepreneurs- we lead the world (by far) in small business creation. What could be a greater gamble than betting your life savings on opening an unproven business with no guaranteed income ever again- instead of keeping a safe job with a guaranteed weekly check, health insurance, and a pension. Small business owners are serious gamblers.

And these same Americans with gambling in their blood are also the most willing to pick up and move to another place in order to find new opportunity. Last year eight million Americans relocated to another state. In almost every case, they left a high-tax, big-government, highly-regulated, Big Brother state to move to a low-tax, limited-government state where economic freedom is more abundant (meaning taxes are lower and government leaves us alone). It’s no coincidence that the state where taxes are zero and gambling is legal- Nevada- is the fastest growing state in America (for 21 of the past 22 years). They may not know it yet, but all these risk-taking, opportunity-seeking Americans searching for more economic freedom and their own piece of the famous American Dream are Libertarians. They just want to be left alone by government to achieve their own destiny.

Want more proof that we are the most gambling-crazed nation in the world? During the last decade (until the U.S. Congress voted in a ban on online gaming), Internet gambling and poker were a global phenomenon. Billions of dollars changed hands- daily. America was the only major country that considered making a bet on the Internet on your own computer a crime. England, Canada, Australia and virtually every other industrialized nation either legalized online gaming,
or looked the other way. Yet guess where the majority of the gambling dollars came from? You guessed it- the United States. Experts estimated that 70% of all the dollars wagered on the Internet came from American gamblers- despite the fact that it was considered illegal. Can you imagine- the rest of the world said it was legal, and all those countries COMBINED only added up to 30% of the dollars wagered!

How popular is gambling in this country? How much has gambling grown legally in the past 25 years? In 1980 about $1 billion dollars was legally wagered in the United States. Today almost $50 billion is legally wagered in one state- New York.

In 1980 there were no legal casinos outside of Nevada or New Jersey. Today there are 400 tribal casinos across the United States producing over $20 billion in revenues. California alone now has 60 tribal casinos that, remarkably, just surpassed the famous Vegas Strip casinos in revenues.

Americans made 376 million trips to casinos in 2007- that means that one quarter of all adult Americans visited a casino last year. Remarkably, it’s now far easier to buy a lottery ticket than a Big Mac- there are 14,000 McDonalds in the USA, versus 185,000 lottery retail establishments.

But here’s the statistic that should open the eyes of Libertarians everywhere as to how popular, accepted and mainstream gambling is this country- The New York Times reports that more money is spent on gambling in the USA than books, movies, music, videos and DVD’s COMBINED.

Gambling has never been more widespread or accepted by voters. According to the annual poll of American adults conducted by Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research and Peter D. Hart Research Associates, 84% of American adults view casino gambling as acceptable for themselves or others. An even larger majority, 86% of Americans adults believe that people in individual states and communities should be allowed to decide what is best for them with respect to gambling. When it comes to gambling, Americans display a strong Libertarian bent.

But no form of gambling is more woven into the American psyche than sports gambling. According to the U.S. Congress Impact Study on Gambling in 1997, over $380 billion dollars is wagered on sports annually in the United States, making sports gambling the most widespread form of gaming. That $380 billion dollar figure makes sports gambling bigger than the entire U.S. auto industry. According to USA Today, more than 1 out of every 2 American adults places a bet on sports annually.

The Wall Street Journal recently said of sports gambling, “If you’ve never placed a sports bet in America, you are fast becoming a member of the minority. Since its beginnings at Colonial horse tracks in the 17th century, the amount of money Americans wager on sports has grown to rival the gross domestic product of New Zealand…through the next calendar year, more than 100 million Americans will wager…on sports.â€�

The popularity of sports on television in this country can be directly attributed to the popularity of betting on sports. The biggest sports gambling event of the year is Super Bowl Sunday- with $6 billion to $8 billion being wagered on that one day, on that one game. Not coincidently, Super Bowl is the highest-rated television event of any kind each year.

NFL football is the TV ratings king- attracting the highest television ratings (by far) of any sport- leading the way are American TV institutions like “NBC Sunday Night Football” and “ESPN Monday Night Football.” Not surprisingly, the highest-rated TV show of any kind in the history of cable television is a Sunday Night NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots.

Not coincidently, football is the king of sports gambling too- with about 50% of all gambling dollars being wagered on football. Can you guess what are the two biggest betting games of each week? Of course they are the two highest-rated TV games of the week- “NBC Sunday Night Football” and “ESPN Monday Night Football.” The gambling action is actually so hot and heavy on Monday nights that American bookmakers changed “collection dayâ€� from Monday morning to Tuesday (after the Monday Night Football game).

But football is not the only big betting sport. The popularity of March Madness has made college basketball the second most popular betting sport in the USA. More money is now bet on the 3 weeks of March Madness than the Super Bowl- over $8 billion. Not coincidently, March Madness is now the second highest-rated television sports event.

What’s important in all this is the role that Libertarian Presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root plays in what Sports Illustrated calls “America’s favorite past-time.â€� The national media has called me, “The King of Vegas,â€� “America’s Oddsmaker,â€� and “The Face of Las Vegas Gambling.â€� Since 1990 there have been several million calls for my advice from American sports fans and gamblers. On any given fall football weekend, about 20,000 Americans are each wagering hundreds to thousands of dollars on my advice on a multitude of games.

Our research indicates about $100,000,000 is bet on my advice each weekend during football season. That’s approximately $3 billion wagered annually on Wayne Root’s advice. My success in this popular and dynamic industry earned me a star on the famous Las Vegas Strip in 2006. My star (in front of New York New York) is one of only 25 stars ever awarded by the Las Vegas Walk
of Stars (I am also the youngest recipient ever).

Then there’s poker. One poker site alone- Party Gaming- a public company, reported $45 billion dollars of wagering on their poker site in 2005. Their revenues on that $45 BB in action were just shy of $1 billion- all on one web site. There were approximately 2400 poker web sites on the Internet at that time. Then the U.S. Congress passed an online gaming ban (called UEIGA) which prevented the transfer of monies for online gaming purposes through banks, credit cards or other financial instruments.

Since then, over one million American poker players have joined the political and lobbying arm of poker, The Poker Players Alliance. The Chairman of the PPA is former United States Senator Al D’Amato. Those one million poker enthusiasts can be harnessed by the Libertarian Presidential nominee to support, contribute and vote for LP candidates at all levels of office- especially if a high-profile friend of gaming is the nominee.

Add to that group the 10 to 12 million online poker fans in the USA…the 50 million Americans that choose to play poker with friends…and my personal database of two million Wayne Root fans and clients…and it’s easy to see why the LP is positioned for a record-breaking year in 2008.

That is why my fellow Libertarians, gambling should and must matter to the LP this Fall- especially if our goal is dramatically growing the party; attracting record-setting media exposure; electing Libertarians on the local level; and perhaps most importantly, adding tens of thousands of new donors. That is precisely why I believe that putting Wayne Allyn Root at the top of the LP ticket would be beneficial to the LP and the “freedom movement� for years to come.

The media has dubbed me “Ron Paul…on steroids.â€� They are referring to the dynamic energy, excitement, youthful enthusiasm, passion and high-profile celebrity that I bring to the Presidential campaign. But what should be most important to LP voters is that I’m just getting started. I have a 16 year plan to win the White House. I am here for the long haul. 2008 is just a start in the right direction. I’ll work with LP local and state candidates over the next 4, 8, 12, and 16 years to build the base, build the donor list, build the “LP brand,â€� and build our party.

I hope you’re as excited as me. As an old proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.â€� I hope you’ll honor me with your LP Presidential nomination in 2008 so we can take that first big step to the White House and majority party together.