Harry Reid Remains Silent on Plans for Online Poker Bill
As the current session of Congress concludes, one storyline from the lame-duck session has yet to find the closure attained by measures such as START and DADT – the I-poker regulation effort floated by Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
Word first emerged from the Senator’s camp that he was marshaling support for regulation of online poker in early December. Analysts viewed it as a payback bill for the large Las Vegas casinos that had supported Reid’s brutal 2010 re-election campaign, speculation that gained additional credibility when AGA head Frank Farenkopf offered his public support for Reid’s bill in mid-December.
Multiple drafts of Reid’s bill circulated in the press, and a fairly consistent pattern emerged: Regulation would be a process that sought to strike a balance between Federal oversight and State choice, a process that would create a market built to favor the major US gambling interests, and a process that would seek to severely limit the ability of unlicensed operators to offer online poker to US players.
Reid’s effort was ultimately abandoned in the face of harsh opposition, but that defeat raised a new question for the online poker industry: What now? Reid’s bill wasn’t simply a trial balloon – the drafts of the bill represented a detailed legislative undertaking with various concessions for major stakeholders.
Harry Reid has yet to comment on his plans for the future of the bill. His office has said the Senator is committed to the effort, but with no official word from the Senator himself, the public and the gaming industry is left to wonder if the move to regulate poker by Reid was a one-time effort or simply the first step on a long legislative path.