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Reid Online Poker Bill All But Dead

Dec 16, 2010
Author: Susan Arnold
Reid Online Poker Bill All But Dead

The online poker bill championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) appears to be all but dead, as the Senator failed to attach the bill as an amendment to the tax compromise bill currently working its way through Congress. The online poker bill would have set up a regulatory framework in which American-based gambling companies would have had an opportunity to compete with established poker rooms in the US market.

According to Poker News Daily, Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas is said to believe that the political wrangling around the tax bill made it difficult to add any additional controversial bills to the mix. It also seems that there will be no attempt to attach the legislation to the omnibus spending bill.

For American poker players, the proposed online poker bill contained both positive and negative aspects. The tax provisions seemed reasonable enough that they were unlikely to drive up rake rates, and reversing the UIGEA regulations would have immediately made it easier for American players to move money in and out of their online poker accounts.

However, the biggest sticking point for serious players was the inclusion of a 15-month “blackout” period that would exist before the United States would begin licensing poker rooms. Since major rooms would likely want to apply for licenses when they are issued, they would almost certainly stop servicing American players during this period, leaving only smaller networks that had no intention of ever being licensed left to take poker action for American players. In addition, there would be an additional blackout period during which these sites would only be allowed to take American players, meaning USA poker players would be segregated from players from other countries.

Given the ups and downs of the bill in its current incarnation, not everyone is disappointed at the failure to push it through Congress. However, it is possible that passing any online poker bill at all may be difficult in the upcoming Congress, when the Republican Party will hold a majority in the House of Representatives. While not strictly a partisan issue by any means, online poker has more supporters among Democrats in Congress, making it less likely to be passed with the GOP holding sway in the House.

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