Sen Harry Reid Wants to legalize online poker

silcnlayc

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Politico
© December 8, 2010
By Kenneth P. Vogel and Manu Raju

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to use the tax cut package President Barack Obama brokered with Republicans to legalize online poker, POLITICO has learned — a move that could further complicate the deal Obama announced Monday.

Already, the online poker proposal has exposed the Nevada Democrat to charges of flip-flopping on a controversial issue, as well as using his Senate leadership position to repay big casino interests that helped him win reelection in a hard-fought campaign against Republican Sharron Angle last month.

Reid, who has previously opposed online gambling, declined to comment Monday through a spokesman.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), as well as several senior congressional sources and gambling lobbyists, confirmed that Reid and his staff have reached out to other Senate offices to try to build support for adding the online poker legislation — a draft of which POLITICO has obtained — to a measure extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

"They're trying," said Hatch, who next year will become ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over parts of the gambling measure. "Sen. Reid would like to do that."

Republican leadership aides said the poker measure, which was drafted over the weekend at Reid’s request, wasn't part of the deal the GOP reached with the White House. But a senior congressional official with knowledge of the ongoing talks said Reid has privately discussed the measure with the two Republican senators representing their caucus in the negotiations — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Kyl, a leading opponent of online gambling, told POLITICO he intends to block Reid’s proposal and vowed there is "zero chance — no chance whatsoever that would be part of the tax deal. I don’t think it would be the right thing to do.”

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers in both chambers have blasted the deal Obama reached with the GOP because it would extend tax relief for Americans earning more than $250,000 and reneges on Obama’s own campaign pledge to eliminate it. They warned that the White House has work to do to rally support within Obama's own party for the tax package itself, let alone if it included special-interest gambling legislation.

“The House Republicans will go crazy if this is in the bill,” said one senior congressional aide, declaring it “a total, 100 percent payback” for the support Reid received from gambling interests. The aide asserted that lobbyists for the Las Vegas-based casino operator Harrah's, now known as Caesars Entertainment Corp., even helped write the legislation.

“You could call him ‘Harrah Reid’ at this point,” the aide quipped.

The company, through its employees and political action committee, contributed $83,000 to Reid’s reelection campaign, making it his fourth most generous supporter, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Another Vegas casino operator, MGM Resorts International, was Reid’s biggest donor, at $192,000.

The two casino companies combined to contribute at least $375,000 to Patriot Majority, an independent political group that spent more than $3.3 million attacking Angle, whose down-to-the-wire campaign against Reid was fueled with millions of dollars from tea party donors. Reid and Angle spent more than $41 million between them, making their Senate race the second-most-expensive contest, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In addition, e-mails obtained by the conservative National Review appear to show Harrah’s officials working to get their employees to the polls early for Reid. One official, apparently concerned about a lack of urgency, wrote, “Waking up to a defeat of Harry Reid Nov. 3 will be devastating for our industry’s future. I know everyone is working hard, but somehow the effort is not getting through the ranks.”

Caesars Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker franchise, has been among the most aggressive advocates for legalizing online gambling, which would require overturning a 2006 bill called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. That law bars financial institutions from processing electronic payments for online gambling.

Jan Jones, Caesars Entertainment’s top lobbyist, pointed out in an e-mail that other casino interests also support legalization of online poker, adding that it would be inaccurate to describe Reid’s legislation as a sweetheart deal in exchange for the casino’s support during his reelection campaign.

“It has industry support ... and [is] not a payback,” Jones wrote. She declined to comment further, citing Securities and Exchange Commission regulations barring her from commenting about corporate matters during financial filing periods.

The National Indian Gaming Association is opposing Reid’s effort to insert the online poker language in any tax cut bill, said an official with the group, Jason Giles. He asserted it gives an advantage to Las Vegas-based gambling operators while discriminating against tribal operators.

“It is drafted to create an initial regulatory monopoly for Nevada and New Jersey for the first several years of the bill, which gives Las Vegas operators time to capture the market,” he said.

A gambling industry insider familiar with Reid's efforts said Republican-leaning Vegas casino moguls Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, while generally supportive of Reid’s legislation, take issue with provisions that could allow companies that previously operated in violation of online gambling laws to cash in.

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., president of the American Gaming Association, declined to comment, while a top spokesman for MGM Mirage said the company generally supports Reid’s effort.

“The final bill is still in process, and there may be any number of technical or language issues with which we might disagree,” said the spokesman, Alan Feldman, “but on the whole, this effort seems to us to be a comprehensive and appropriate balance between creating jobs and generating badly needed tax revenues for states and providing significant structure and rigor to the licensing and operations of online poker sites.”

This year, the House Financial Services Committee held hearings about online gambling and approved legislation to regulate it. But the prospects for passing legislation are expected to dim next year, when Republicans assume control of the House.

Last week, three House Republicans who will become committee chairmen with jurisdiction over online gambling legislation in the next Congress — Reps. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Dave Camp of Michigan and Lamar Smith of Texas — penned a letter to Reid and McConnell “oppos[ing] any attempt to legalize Internet gambling during the lame-duck session.” They blasted as “secretive” and “undemocratic” any effort to attach such legislation to another bill.

"Congress should not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending," they wrote.





Interesting article this morning.


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felicie

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Good article silcnlayc and an irritating habit of republicans to always want to fix the cake's ingredient & baking problems rather than simply adding on another layer of frosting. And couldn't the cost of electing one of these turkeys take a big chunk out of the national debt? It's disgraceful. And the old adage 'you get what you pay for' does not apply here.:rolleyes: or does it. Ah hell, I'm just gonna go make a bowl of chocolate fudge frosting with no cake and then I'll feel allll better. :thumbsup:
 

nisosbar

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Republicans like Kyl are SUCH hypocrites.

He's okay with tacking to must-pass bills separate legislation which is totally unrelated to the main bill, such as, ahem, the UIGEA - which had as much to do with the Port Security Bill to which IT was attached as Reid's bill does, even less, actually - when it supports his own views and campaign contributors, like Mormons. Pffft. :mad:
 

felicie

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Republicans like Kyl are SUCH hypocrites.

He's okay with tacking to must-pass bills separate legislation which is totally unrelated to the main bill, such as, ahem, the UIGEA - which had as much to do with the Port Security Bill to which IT was attached as Reid's bill does, even less, actually - when it supports his own views and campaign contributors, like Mormons. Pffft. :mad:

I'm afraid that is just considered the 'norm' these days and they all do it. I don't understand why we just can't get the damn thing put on the ballot like we did the indian casinos. Same with the healthcare system. why can't we the people hire outside (of the govt.) consultants to come up with the perfect healthplan? oops I'm derailing sorry.

Lastly it is becoming very clear to me that when all is said and done regarding online gambling, poker is going to be the only game allowed and slot hounds like me will be left doing what we're doing now or even worse, will not be able to play slots online at all. :confused:
 

Luckylizzy

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I'm glad that at least steps are being taken to include legislation to protect poker players. However it should include all online casino games in my opinion. The only thing I have a real big problem with is the fact that for 15 months, any online operator that wishes to receive a license must cease operations in the US. That means no real money poker in the US for over a year. :( It would be difficult but if that's what it takes to get some actual regulation in this industry than I guess it could be worth the wait.

My opinions about how they are piggy backing this onto the tax bill are pretty clear. The republicans are being such hypocrites when they bash what Harry Reid is trying to get done when in 2006 they did the same thing with the UIGEA adding it to the Safe Port act at the last minute. But noo it's okay for them to do it but not for anyone else? It's kind of dumb for them to even open their mouth about it.
 

Tengil

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I'm glad that at least steps are being taken to include legislation to protect poker players. However it should include all online casino games in my opinion. The only thing I have a real big problem with is the fact that for 15 months, any online operator that wishes to receive a license must cease operations in the US. That means no real money poker in the US for over a year. :( It would be difficult but if that's what it takes to get some actual regulation in this industry than I guess it could be worth the wait.

My opinions about how they are piggy backing this onto the tax bill are pretty clear. The republicans are being such hypocrites when they bash what Harry Reid is trying to get done when in 2006 they did the same thing with the UIGEA adding it to the Safe Port act at the last minute. But noo it's okay for them to do it but not for anyone else? It's kind of dumb for them to even open their mouth about it.

The 15 month blackout would basically only apply to B&M casinos. Pokerstars and Fulltilt for example would have a 39 month blackout. The reason is obvious. Thats what I read. Good cliffnotes can be found here:
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And this would only be for online poker, no other games AFAIK
 

felicie

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Is it all just a big stall? to stop everything for 2 years while they (US govt) decide what is best for... the US govt? Puts all current operators out of business so the big b&m guys can just slide right into the top spots of online gambling? :confused:
 

jetset

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I think it's a safe bet that protectionism will be a strong element if this goes forward - the politicians and big brands will see to to that.

BTW the New Jersey bill moved forward another step Thursday.
 

felicie

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Pretty much the same thoughts and feelings shared by all apparently. :)


I wanted to update you on the status of Congressional efforts to pass legislation which would license and regulate online poker in the U.S. While it remains an open question whether a bill will succeed during the "lame duck" session happening now, I want you to know what we are doing to protect your right to play online poker.

The PPA has been and continues to work night and day on this issue. While many have speculated that the "Tax Bill" would be a likely vehicle for iPoker legislation, because of recent political developments with respect to the tax bill it has become complicated to predict whether that bill is a viable path. I still maintain, as I told the Wall Street Journal (click to read) yesterday when the rumors circulated that the bill was dead, that nothing is dead until Congress adjourns.

Let me assure you that we have heard and strongly considered the concerns a number of our online poker playing members have raised, specifically regarding the 15 month "blackout period" contained in the draft bills that have circulated in recent days. The blackout period means that upon enactment of the proposed internet poker law there would be fifteen months where NO licensed Internet poker would be available to U.S. players. In all likelihood, some of the web sites where you currently play would leave the market so they can go through the process of obtaining a U.S. license and then re-enter the market after the 15 month blackout period.

Frankly, the proposed blackout period is absurd and the PPA opposes it. And we have fought – and continue to fight – tooth and nail against it. But it is a reality. There will likely be a blackout period of some length included in any legislation that is passed, whether it is in this Congress or future Congresses. Our opponents have been throwing their weight around to get a lengthy blackout period included and, unfortunately, I fear they are winning.

Reid Backs Legalizing Web PokerThat being said, upon significant analysis, review and reflection, we believe that the long- term benefits of this bill to the poker community make the blackout period a bitter pill we have to swallow. Our goal is to establish a permanent, safe and regulated U.S. online poker market, similar to the European regulatory markets. While many think the status quo works and is fine, it is not a long term solution and cannot last.

Without Federal licensing and regulation, individual states could – and have started – to license play within their borders only, setting up monopolies that will not provide you with the playing experience you’ve come to expect. Or they will ban online poker altogether, like Washington State has done. That is why the PPA encouraged you earlier this week to contact your Senators and voice support a Federal bill before the end of the year.

We believe that the trade off for getting regulated, permanent US online poker market is worth a temporary blackout of some sort. It’s not what we want, either, and it’s not what we pushed for in Congress, and we don’t even like it. But when viewing this from the perspective of maintaining a sustainable Internet poker market the 15 month period is short-term pain for a long-term gain.

This has been a very tedious process and seems to change from moment to moment. As Congress considers bills throughout the remainder of the lame duck, we will continually update you on our progress.

Thank you, as always, for your support and we welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Proud to Play,
John Pappas
Executive Director
Poker Players Alliance
 

rockycatt

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these politicians simply need to be eradicated with extreme prejudice / they want the well for them selves only

example of why i feel this way ---------->
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felicie

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Thanks rockycatt there's some interesting stuff on that page. :thumbsup:

The first thing I noticed was the following quote which if the poster is correct says that Tierney voted against Pelosi one time and that was a NO on making online gambling illegal in the U.S. So that means Pelosi voted Yes on making online gambling illegal which puts a whole new light on things doesn't it.
Before I say anything further I'm going to go confirm the 'vote'. Good read rockycatt.

"The big thing missing from this article is Tierney's one anti-Pelosi vote was a no vote on a bill to make online gambling illegal in the US".
 

jetset

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Reid bill got a good boost late Friday with a statement from the American Gaming Association supporting the Reid legalisation of online poker initiative.

Traditionally against online gambling, although it has switched to a 'neutral' stance in recent years, the Association's support - albeit only for online poker in this case - is a significant development.
 

felicie

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Reid bill got a good boost late Friday with a statement from the American Gaming Association supporting the Reid legalisation of online poker initiative.

Traditionally against online gambling, although it has switched to a 'neutral' stance in recent years, the Association's support - albeit only for online poker in this case - is a significant development.


I went to the previous links in this thread but didn't see that could you tell me where please jetset and is the blackout going to affect our playing here? or is it just a poker blackout and things will remain the same otherwise. thank you.
 

jetset

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It's on the wire services, so you should be seeing more coverage on this in the general press. Associated Press have a piece on it, too.

If the bill ultimately goes through (and remember at the moment it's virtually a draft only and time's running short in this Congress) then these are its main proposed provisions (at present):

AGA PROVIDES MAJOR BOOST FOR ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION BILL (Update)

American Gaming Association says the Reid bill includes solid oversight and consumer protections.

Late Friday, the influential land gambling trade body the American Gaming Association gave an important boost to Nevada Senator Harry Reid's legislative attempt to federally legalise online poker in the United States.

In a media statement explaining its move from a 'neutral' stance to one of support, the Association said that the bill includes solid oversight and consumer protections.

"Current online gambling laws do not provide these safeguards, leaving players and the system open to fraud, cheating and other illegal acts," Frank Fahrenkopf, the group's chief executive asserted.

The Associated Press news agency circulated the statement widely as extensive mainstream media coverage of the Reid bill continued.

The AGA represents the interests of America's more than 440 commercial land casinos, which account for more than half the billions in gambling revenues generated in the United States each year.

Fahrenkopf commented in the AGA statement: "This is tough law-and-order legislation that puts in place a solid regulatory framework and legal oversight that will prevent illegal activity and protect the estimated 15 million Americans who already are playing poker online.

"Ours is a unique industry in that it wants tough regulatory control and strict law enforcement oversight, which ensures the integrity of our business and protects consumers. Current online gambling laws do not provide these safeguards, leaving players and the system open to fraud, cheating and other illegal acts."

The AGA support for the Reid bill is a significant development; in the immediate past the association has taken a neutral stance on the legalisation of online gambling, respecting the often divergent views of its members

Associated Press reports that the Reid bill's provisions include a two-year period in which only existing casino companies - either commercial casinos already approved by various states or licensees approved by American Indian tribes - will be licensed to operate online.

Only US-resident gamblers will be permitted to play for the first three years. It is additionally proposed that applicant sites now offering online gambling would have to shut down their American operations within 30 days of the bill's passage or risk being barred from ever winning a licence.

Reid remains staunchly against expanding the legalisation initiative to other aspects of online gambling like casino games; in a statement on Thursday last week (see previous InfoPowa report), he said: "I still have serious concerns about legalizing the broad range of casino-type gambling through the Internet.

"The bill I am working on would make other types of Internet gambling clearly illegal, while increasing penalties and strengthening the ability of law enforcement to shut down illegal sites."

MGM Resorts International, one of Reid's strongest corporate supporters, stands to benefit from the bill's passage and could generate $100 million to $200 million annually from related earnings if it goes through, gaming analysts estimate, pointing to the group's large player database and multiple highly recognisable brands

The newly rebranded Harrah's Entertainment - now Caesars Entertainment Corp. - also stands to score; it owns the World Series of Poker, the world's most popular series of live poker tournaments which online companies support via satellite tourneys.
 

nisosbar

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While I'd like to see internet poker go legit, this tax cut bill weakens social security, and so I have to say that I hope this bill does not pass.
 

jetset

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There was speculation that Reid would attempt to attach his legalisation of online poker proposal to the controversial but very important Obama tax cut bill in an attempt to get it through in the closing days of the current Congress....but that has not so far taken place.

This is a similar tactic to that used by the Frist/Kyl axis in ramming the UIGEA through a late night session of Congress just before a recess in 2006, attached to the Safe Ports must-pass bill. The two were totally unrelated, but that's still permissible and it certainly took the industry by surprise.

I don't think anyone knows what Reid's next move will be, but time is running out, even for this influential and experienced politician.
 

jetset

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Now there are whispers that in this last remaining week or so Reid may attempt to attach to some other 'christmas tree' Washington spending bill, but no-one seems to really know.

Some analysts are only giving this bill a ten percent chance to get through in this session of Congress...but the experts have been wrong before...

Meanwhile Barney Frank has been uncharacteristically quiet - do you think he may be planning a move on HR2267 while the attention is all on Reid?
 

ksech

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Maybe Barney Frank is thoroughly searching for a must approve bill he can attach his HR2267 to, like they did with the UIGEA?
 

nisosbar

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Why weakens nisosbar? :) or is that a derail?

As you may be aware, social security is financed in part by payroll taxes - those automatic payments made on your behalf like unemployment insurance premiums. Currently, such taxes are about 6%. Obama proposes reducing this tax to 2 or 3%. His own deficit commission claims that social security is fiscally weak; so why are they making it fiscally weaker by reducing the payroll tax? If anything, a Democratic president should be strengthening it.

As to why it upsets me, that's because for many people, social security will be the only thing they have to count on in their retirement years. For better or worse, that is much more important (to me) than anything else up for consideration. Cheers. :)
 

felicie

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It is attached to the tax cut bill and the republicans DO want that so I imagine it's all about scratching each others backs? It sure is comforting to be constantly reminded that these back scratching politicians treat every day issues important in our lives as if they were on 'Lets make a Deal'. Come on down Senator! will it be door #1 or door #2 or this little box with a big red bow. :rolleyes:
 

P.V.

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Online poker draft, Harry Reid.

I haven't seen this posted yet, so here you go. This is the current draft for the legalization of online poker within the U.S..

Kind of boring but for those who want to keep up, some of it is interesting.

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felicie

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Thanks P.V. and that's the last time I'm reading it as I cannot find anything positive or good about it in regards to what I've come to enjoy as online gambling. The 'regulatory regime' is moving in. :(
 
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