Pokerati.com reports that Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is working on a new bill (one of many in the past year) to legalize and regulate online poker. It is unclear at the moment why or how this would differ from current efforts by Barney Frank. The bill is expected to be introduced in the second quarter of 2010, a few months after the enforcement deadline for the UIGEA.
In exchange for desperately needed campaign money, Reid has (likely) struck a bargain with Harrah’s Entertainment and MGM (who have collectively donated almost $300,000 to his 2010 campaign) to introduce legislation for regulated online poker on their behalf. The absence of sports-betting references from the bill gives it a higher chance of seeing support in Congress.
To explain recent progress, Pokerati links to a news story documenting the American Gaming Association’s (the biggest lobbying group for American brick-and-mortar casinos) official change in opinion on the desirability of Internet poker. Regarding the timing of all of this, Pokerati summarizes:
1. Let the UIGEA go into full effect June 1.
2. Eliminate the most powerful online poker operators currently in the industry (i.e. Tilt and Stars).
3. Pass a new law.
4. Let Harrah’s, the Sands, and MGM/Mirage set up shop.
5. Then let the European poker sites join the party.
How should we feel about this? On one hand, the underhanded method of sending the competitors packing then coming back to play ball is crony capitalism at its finest. On the other hand, the Vegas conglomerates haven’t been allowed to enter the Internet poker market at all.
Furthermore, support of a powerful industry is the necessarily catalyst for off-the-radar issues like Internet gambling to ever have attention paid to it in Washington. Without their support, it remains buried on page 7 of a socially conservative senator’s “things-to-outlaw” list.
Oh, and legalization would apparently create jobs. Is that before or after it bankrupts American families and destroys the social fabric of our society?