Reid Continues To Push For Online Poker Despite Strong Criticism

Reid Continues To Push For Online Poker Despite Strong Criticism

Reid Continues To Push For Online Poker Despite Strong Criticism - Image via Wikipedia

Harry Reid, the majority leader of Nevada, continues his quest to pass legislation in Congress before the end of 2010. He is facing a blizzard of criticism lately, and the end of the month draws to it’s close with only a few days to squeeze in the massive bill. A former Democratic National Committee chairman  calls his operation ‘outrageous”, crediting Reid’s motivation to paying back Las Vegas casino bigwigs which were powerful campaign supporters.

Reid has taken criticism in stride and stayed under the radar this week, even with news of a letter he received from  Steven Grossman, treasurer elect of Massachusets. Reid’s office released his first official statement on Thursday, stating that his plan will increase much-needed new tax revenue for Nevada and “protect U.S. consumers” by allowing “reputable operators with proven track records” to provide access to online poker over the internet for Americans.

These comments have sparked email flurry and public statements by state lottery officials throughout the States. Says Steven Grossman, “We could lose $100 million from this,” he follows up with speculating, “When you consider the 40 or more other states that would be similarly disadvantaged, the revenue loss for state governments would be in the billions.” State lottery and Indian-run casinos fear the legislature allowing online gambling with little to no restrictions to Americans, would cut into casino profits and the Lottery offering its own online games.

The restrictions currently on online gambling currently stem from legislature passed in 2006 called the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which stopped the online gaming companies from processing credit card transactions, the primary way players got funds into their online accounts. Although dedicated American online players have learned to work around this, online gaming sites are hindered by the act when the general public and new players might want to access the site easily.

Over the last four years, online poker playing has become more and more popular, with the big sites sponsoring the biggest names in professional poker. A few are Full Tilt, UB, and PokerStars.net, who heavily sponsor the World Series of Poker players seen on television. Reid noted that “internet poker is played by millions of Americans everyday in an essentially unregulated environment.” His recommendation of online gambling legislation will continue to be at the forefront as he reviews his options.

The Reid proposal would primarily benefit two major supporters of his in Las Vegas- MGM Resorts International and Ceasar’s entertainment (formerly Harrah’s). NBC news reported this week that they spent more that $650,000 on Reid’s campaign, funneling $300,000 of that into Patriot Majority PAC, who spent the money on attack ads against Reids Republican opponant at the time, Sharron Angle.

Reid had powerful backers in his campaign that he now is motivated to repay. He is supporting legislature that is unpopular, and that he himself opposed in 2006, because then it was seen as a threat to Las Vegas gambling giants. However, as times change, Reid is now a full supporter of a bill allowing Americans to access online gambling in a controlled way. As his press secretary stated, ” Sen. Reid has a long track record of fighting for the biggest industry in the state. Look at what the biggest industry of the state is. Would anyone criticize a senator from Michigan for fighting for the auto industry?”  Reid will try to hitch the online gambling legislation to bills likely to pass in Congress in 2010. These include the Dream Act.

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Posted by on Dec 11 2010. Filed under Poker Legal News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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