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No Hope For US Online Poker Bill

By: Joe Valentino, Wednesday December 19th 2012
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The first admission of defeat on the Reid-Kyl online poker bill came from David Krone, who is Senator Harry Reid’s chief of staff. In an interview Krone said, “This bill for this year is dead. It’s a tough bill to educate people on, and people just weren’t ready.” Later Senator Reid explained that only a few days remained in the session and there was no consensus reached. “We have simply run out of time in this legislative calendar,” he said. Though Reid was disappointed, he remained committed to legalization of online poker and would take up this issue on priority in the new Congress.

A federal online poker bill is crucial for several Nevada casino companies who want to tap the national market by going online. American poker players are also seeking legal and federally regulated online games. However, the bill had opposition from powerful quarters. Several states want their own online gambling regulation that will bring revenues directly to them. They are averse to federal regulation of online poker. The Indian tribes are also against this bill as they feel it would cut into their business. One of the biggest problems of this bill is that it seeks to legalize online poker on the basis of accepting that all other forms of online gambling would be illegal. State lotteries who want to expand online are not willing to accept this position. The problems in selling the Reid-Kyl bill to the senators included the fact that it never was formally introduced and that the Nevada casino companies could not agree on a public relations plan.

The casino company leaders expressed disappointment and said that they would focus on individual states looking at legalizing online poker. They also averred that there was no lack of effort on their part. MGM Resorts International Senior Vice President Alan Feldman said the industry went to extra lengths to lobby for the bill by meeting with members of Congress and raising awareness of the issue. Caesars Entertainment Corporation Senior Vice President Jan Jones said, “Everybody worked real hard on this.” Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. the president of the American Gaming Association said that he respected Reid’s judgment and hoped that the matter would be taken up early in 2013. John Pappas, executive director of Poker Players Alliance said he was discouraged but would begin the fight anew after January 1.

Despite Reid’s commitment to trying again next year, Krone felt that the momentum that had been built in 2012 is lost. In all probability some US states would have intra state online gambling regulation in place next year. Feldman opined that some of the states might not be able to handle online gambling regulation well and then Washington may step in. But this would be a reactive stance rather than a proactive one.

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