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Hope Fading for Passage of Reid Online Poker Bill

Dec 9, 2010
Author: Susan Arnold
Hope Fading for Passage of Reid Online Poker Bill

In contrast to the optimism felt earlier in the week, supporters of a federal online poker bill are now saying that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill, which would legalize and regulate Internet poker, is increasingly looking unlikely to pass in this session of Congress.

Reid (D-Nevada) had planned to attach the proposal as an amendment to the last minute tax bill that is expected to be voted on before the end of the year. However, that plan has run into significant opposition, most notably from Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona). Kyl has stated that he would block any attempts to place the online poker legislation on the tax bill. Reid has reportedly been looking for other bills that will be passed at the end of the year as potential targets for attaching an amendment.

According to a statement by Reid, he supports the bill because the current unregulated environment is unfair to the millions of Americans who play online poker currently.

"The legislation I am working on would get our collective heads out of the sand and create a strict, regulatory environment to protect U.S. consumers, prevent underage gambling and respect the decisions of states that don't allow gambling,” Reid said.

While more Democrats than Republicans have shown support for the bill, it would seem inaccurate to classify this as a partisan struggle. Many Republicans have come out in support of some form of regulation for online poker, including Senator John Ensign (R-Nevada). There are even rumblings that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) would have no objections to the bill.

The current form of the bill would impose a 15-month blackout period in which no online poker would be licensed in the United States. This was designed to allow American casino companies a chance to prepare to enter the market, mitigating some of the advantage held by international operators like Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. The bill would set a tax rate of 20% on each poker site’s revenues, not deposits, as was previously reported.

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