Internet Poker Act Already Off Agenda

This week’s big news has far and away been Harry Reid’s incendiary online poker proposal. Some insiders were predicting that a push to pass the bill could happen as early as next week, but today poker sites, magazines and blogs around the world reported the disappointing news that Reid had surrendered the fight before it even began.

Harry Reid hosted a press conference this afternoon in which he tried to deflect attention from the failed online poker proposal and toward his other platforms. When asked if the online poker bill was still a priority for this session, Reid vaguely replied, “We’re still working on that; we’re not able to.”

Many skeptics wondered how Reid would rush the bill through Congress when the first draft had only just been released last week, and as it turns out their doubts were correct. Reid has publicly stated that the plan was to get the bill attached to another must-pass piece of legislation, but it was a plan that none of the other major players in Congress were willing to forward. Left with no vehicle, and with only a week remaining until the end of the current session, Reid admitted defeat, albeit reluctantly.

While many groups, including the all-powerful PPA (which endorsed Reid’s legislation earlier in the week), are hoping that efforts to legalize gambling will be renewed full strength in the new session, the incoming mob of Republicans will almost surely make any efforts to repeal the UIGEA impossible.

Reid’s original hopes of using his own vote and that of the bill’s other potential sponsors as a bargaining chip – offering, in exchange for passage of his own legislation his support for the Republican contingent’s platform for extended tax cuts – were dashed when President Obama himself cut a deal with the other side of the aisle earlier this week.

Even more discouragingly, such key players as Representative Barney Frank – who drafted HR 2267 and current leads the House Financial Services Committee – will be replaced next month by politicians that have already publicly taken an anti-poker and anti-gambling position. In Frank’s case, he will be succeeded by Rep. Spencer Bachus who just last week contacted Reid to warn that he would in no way support the legalization of online gambling.

As the PPA conceded just yesterday, Reid’s legislation would have been the lesser of two evils. While it contained stipulations that had many current poker players concerned, it nevertheless would have meant the long-awaited legalization of the game, replete with restored deposits and withdrawals directly from American bank accounts. Now, with a largely anti-poker Capitol Hill ahead, any sort of pro-gambling legislation seems unlikely on the federal level.

Related Entries