Poker players can thank economic problems in the US for increasing the odds of clear online poker legislation and regulation. Internet poker legislation “will get done” according to what Senate majority leader Harry Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. This was the first time the senator from Nevada spoke with such assurance on the future of online poker in the United States.
As to the timing of when things might start happening, that depends on the joint select committee on deficit reduction which has the task of finding $1.5 trillion in debt savings over the next 10 years. With little effort, billions of dollars could be collected by licensing and regulating online poker. This would also go well with the objectives of the committee to raise extra money without increasing taxes. John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance said that there was a good chance that the chances were good to get the topic into the discussion. “Whether it makes it into the final recommendation is the question” he added.
If online poker were to go on the committee’s bill, it is there to stay. With 12 members in the committee, half Republican and half Democrat, the deadlock can only be broken by a member willing to cross party lines. Poker will have very little to do with this, it will mostly be all about politics. But this is a good opportunity for online poker legislation to piggyback on the bill and see the light of day.
It will however be a tough road. Of the 12 members, the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) gives four a grade of “B”, two a grade of “F” and the rest are unknowns. Pappas thinks that Kyl and Reid will be the ones holding the cards. “Even though Reid is on the commission, he appointed people who are. If Kyl and Reid can compromise on a deal to include online poker, I think it can happen.”
Kyl blocked Reid’s attempt of attaching an online poker for sites like Surgaslot in the proposal to must-pass legislation during the lame-duck session last year. However, he did write that he would consider efforts to legalize online poker if other aspects of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act are strengthened. Shortly after, Kyl and Reid wrote a letter together on the topic to Attorney General Eric Holder. Although the letter did not seem favorable to online poker, it did show that both senators were ready to work together. Some say that the timing of Reid’s statement that online poker legislation will get done suggests that an agreement was reached between Reid and Kyl.
There still isn’t any official word on when the committee will begin its work but the Budget Control Act says that a vote should take place on a proposal by November 23d. Any poker legislation discussed would have to include tax language in order to be able to estimate the amount of potential revenue for the government. Reid’s proposal from last year includes such language that could be used.