Harry Reid says online poker bill not in the cards

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Feb 18, 2012 Posted in Legal Poker News, US Poker News | No Comments »

With all of the new efforts at the state level, as well as new advocates at the federal level, the poker community has been overly optimistic that an online poker bill will be attached to a larger piece of legislation in 2012.

One of the proposed pieces of legislation was the Payroll Tax Bill, which could have used some of the revenue from online poker taxation to offset the cost –paying for the extension of the tax cuts, as well as for extending unemployment benefits was a sticking point for some Republican lawmakers; a hole which some advocates felt online poker could fill.

Thursday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) put an end to that speculation, telling reporters that online poker was not included in the final bill as he entered an elevator in the Capitol according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reid, a staunch supporter of online gaming legislation, and other pro-online poker lawmakers have had little success over the years in even getting an online gaming bill to the floor of Congress.

The closest brush was in 2009, when Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) was able to get a piece of legislation through the House Financial Services Committee, before the measure was left for dead and never introduced to the floor of the House of Representatives.

Other recent attempts have been greeted with even less support, including an attempt in the Lame Duck session of 2010 by Harry Reid, and a bill introduced in 2011 by Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) which has languished in sub-committee hearings –some of this is has to do with Republicans having the majority in the House of Representatives, which gives the now-Republican committee chairs power over what bills are brought up, as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) controlling what bills are brought to the House floor for a final vote.

Rich Muny, the Vice President of Player Relations for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) was quoted in the LVRJ as saying, “While we were hopeful the payroll tax bill would include a bill to license and regulate online poker in the U.S., the Poker Players Alliance supports any other vehicle in which this can happen this year and believe this is a decision best left to the lawmakers,”

While the federal government is making little progress, state governments have been pushing ahead, with Nevada primed and ready for intra-state online poker in the near future, and states ranging from New Jersey to Iowa, Connecticut to Hawaii, and Massachusetts to California all expressing interest in legalizing online poker within their borders.

Many of the states have started to take an interest in online poker after a recent Department of Justice decision to change the way they interpreted the Wire Act: No longer does the DOJ apply the 1961 Wire Act to all forms of online gaming; instead it is limited solely to sports-betting.

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