Poker Coverage: Poker Legislation Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets Sports Betting

Trump Administration Fired Top Aide Because He Gambles Online, Report Says

Internet Betting Made Him 'Vulnerable To Outside Influence'

Print-icon
 

Though he has appeared neutral to online gaming, former Atlantic City casino boss Donald Trump, who is currently the 45th President of the U.S., apparently let a top aide leave the White House because he liked to play casino games over the internet.

According to a report from The Washington Post, President Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was outed this week because he apparently was a security risk thanks to his fondness for online gambling. It’s not clear if the former University of Connecticut starting quarterback had a gambling problem.

Two sources told the Post that McEntee “bet tens of thousands of dollars at a time.” For those familiar with the gaming industry, it’s hard to say what that actually means. Many on Capitol Hill have long demonstrated a poor understanding of the online betting industry, so “tens of thousands of dollars at a time” could conceivably mean poker tournament chips with no cash value.

The administration allegedly determined that gambling online could make McEntee “vulnerable to outside influence,” said the report. It is not illegal to gamble online in America, whether on a regulated site or on an offshore platform. There are no regulated online gambling sites available on Capitol Hill, so if McEntee was playing from there it would have been with a grey market company. It is not known from which country the site or sites McEntee gambled on were based out of.

McEntee, 27, had been with the Trump team since 2015. He eventually assumed the informal position as the president’s “body man.” McEntee reportedly was surprised about his firing. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press that the Trump Administration wouldn’t comment on McEntee’s “personnel issues.”

He reportedly was “very upset” with being let go, and so a day later Trump’s reelection committee hired him as a senior adviser for operations. That move would be consistent with McEntee losing his White House gig because of a potential issue with a security clearance.

As people within the poker world are aware of, there are nagging efforts on Capitol Hill to prohibit states from legalizing online gambling within their respective borders. Those efforts have been funded by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a top donor to the Republican party. Despite the lobbying, there’s been a bipartisan rejection of the anti-states’ rights proposal.

It is worth noting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on the record saying that he was “shocked” by the Obama Administration easing restrictions on internet poker back in 2011. The irony of Sessions’ position is in fact shocking, given the storied history poker has had with U.S. lawmakers dating back to the 1800s. Even Senator John McCain was spotted playing free poker on his smartphone. Trump recently described his dealings with North Korea as a poker game.