It seems that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the man behind the scenes pushing for legislation during this lame duck session that will allow online poker to become legal in the United States. It would however restrict licenses to casinos and racetracks in the beginning and these businesses would have had to be in business for 5 years.
As we wrote about earlier this has gotten some Republicans up in arms and according to one anonymous commenter, “It’s a sloppy wet kiss to Nevada casinos.” Republicans are not the only ones eying this proposal. As the U.S. showed during the passing if the UIGEA, international law seems to only apply to them when it is on their side.
The European Union has attempted to regulate online gambling throughout Europe trying to keep all countries on a level playing field. If the Senator Reid bill passes it would prevent any foreign sites from offering their services to U.S. players, and this may again violate international trade laws.
The draft of Senators Reid which has been obtained by the Wall Street Journal says in part it will legalize online poker and would allow existing casinos, horse tracks and slot-machine makers to operate online poker for two years after the bill passes, thus eliminating foreign competition and new businesses from entering the market.
According to the bill, all oversight would fall under state regulators and not under federal domain. Lastly, taxes on wagers from these websites will be sent to both state and federal governments.
According to the Poker Players Alliance, 15 million Americans currently play poker online and the American Gaming Association reports there are currently 2,000 websites that offer users a chance to gamble online.
Why is there so much speculation about this bill passing now? According to ABC News, some of the major donors to Senator Reid’s re-election campaign this past midterm election was Las Vegas-based casinos that have lately openly supported some sort of legalized online gambling in the United States.
Parry Aftab, an internet privacy and security expert, told ABC News;
“Licensing and regulating online poker is the most effective and responsible way to ensure the online safety of America’s children and consumers. Given the growing popularity of online poker, especially on college campuses, we cannot afford to miss this opportunity to protect America’s children and consumers. We must take action now.”
See what others are saying – Senator Reid Backs Online Poker