Millions of online gamers were outraged by the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. Will their discontent make a difference this election year? There are a number of co-sponsors of HR 4411 and HR 4777, two related internet gaming bills, that are looking vulnerable this year and the online gaming vote could make the difference. While technically HR 4411 was the precursor to the UIGEA, HR 4777, called the Internet Prohibition Act, would have amended the narrowly defined 1961 Wire Act to specifically prohibit the use of the internet for placing bets or wagers.
The first member of Congress to "sign onto" a bill is considered the "sponsor," members subsequently signing on are "co-sponsors." Co-sponsors sign onto a bill to show their support prior to a vote and to publicly identify themselves with the issue. Any number of members may co-sponsor a bill. There were 146 co-sponsors of HR 4777 and 35 co-sponsors of HR 4411.
Some UIGEA-related races of note:
The polls show that six-term incumbent and HR 4411 co-sponsor, Charlie Bass [R, NH-02], has been losing ground to his opponent Paul Hodes in the past month. In the latest poll, Bass is trailing 37% to 45%. These two have met up before, with Bass prevailing. But Hodes has been keeping pace with the incumbent on fundraising and apparently has been putting it to good use.
Another six-term incumbent, Sue W. Kelly [R, NY-19], is in a very tight race. In a poll taken October 26, 2006, she was trailing musician (and founding member of the band Orleans) John Hall 47% to 49%. A vote for Hall would show him he's "Still the One" while making Kelly feel the pain for co-sponsoring HR 4777.
If you'd like to bag big UIGEA game, you're going to have to work a little harder. Jim Leach [R, IA-02], sponsor of HR 4411, is leading his opponent Dave Loebsack 50% to 48%.
If you're in the first district of New Mexico, your republican incumbent and HR 4777 co-sponsor, Heather Wilson is trailing her opponent New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid 42% to 45%. Wilson's ties to former House Majority Leader Tom Delay apparently aren't helping her.
Incumbent J.D. Hayworth [R, AZ-05] and HR 4777 co-sponsor is also having problems with the friends he's chosen. It seems he has already admitted accepting $2250 from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but 62% of his constituents think he's lying and got much more. This is traditionally a republican stronghold, but Hayworth is only leading his opponent Harry Mitchell 48% to 45%.
Connecticut has two hotly contested races involving "online gaming prohibitionists". It's practically a dead heat between incumbent and HR 4777 co-sponsor Robert Simmons [R, CT-02] and his opponent Joe Courtney. And Christopher Shays [R, CT-04], 4411 co-sponsor, is currently trailing Diane Farrell 43% to 47%.
Tom DeLay and Mark Foley were also sponsors of HR 4777, but I don't think we have to worry about them at this point.
While a single issue shouldn't dictate your vote, if you are a player that opposed the passage of the UIGEA, you should know how your incumbent weighed in on internet gaming issues. There are a large number of very tight races and your vote could truly make the difference.
Remember, Election Day is tomorrow November 7th.
Check out the sponsors and co-sponsors of anti-online gaming legislature and how they are doing:
[Please note that the polling data in the above link and the polling data used in this article are not absolutes. Polling data is a sample and therefore has a margin of error.]