No Federal Solution for Online Poker in US?

The latest news in the developments with a Senate bill drawn up by Democrat Senator Harry Reid and Republican Senator Jon Kyl on federal online poker legalization includes reports that a key mover in the initiative, Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada who was in charge of providing Republican support in the Senate, has given up.

Reportedly, Heller sent a note to Reid suggesting that “…it would be beneficial for the House of Representatives to first address this issue.” This change of heart could be devastating for the bill, and heart-breaking for the Democrats.

It was already stated by Reid spokesperson Kristen Orthman that: “Several months ago Sen. Reid asked Sen. Heller to secure Republican votes to help pass an Internet poker bill and to date, Sen. Heller has not been able to secure any support,” which indicates displeasure with the move.

“Rather than standing to fight for this important issue for Nevada, Sen. Heller has decided to run for cover and attempt to lay blame on others,” the spokesperson also added.

What apparently happened is that Heller and Kyl have spoken to around half the Republicans in the Senate, and did not manage to gather enough support, which then drove Heller to note that “With over a dozen states already taking steps to legalize and expand Internet gambling, I recognize that we must act quickly. I am concerned with attempts to impose a deadline on a Friday afternoon during recess, providing little if any time to reconfirm the necessary support among my conference.”

Lobbyists pointed out that the suggestion to move the Kyl-Reid initiative to the House looks “awry” and senseless, bearing in mind the strong opposition that may be encountered, and pointing to the lack of progress by Rep. Joe Barton’s legalization attempt. They also pointed to the strongly worded anti-online gambling clause in the current manifesto of the Republican Party.

Furthermore, in his letter to Reid, Heller also urges him to do more in the Senate to address the “root” of the legalisation problem – the policy change by the Department of Justice last December which admitted that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting.

He noted: “If you think for some strategic reasoning that something should originate in the Senate, then it should address the root of the issue that is plaguing our gaming industry in Nevada, namely the Wire Act.

“UIGEA neither legalized nor made unlawful Internet gambling.”

It was further added by his spokesman, Stewart Bybee: “The core of the problem is the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the Wire Act. Sen. Heller’s focus is to pass a piece of legislation that fixes the Wire Act and also brings a component for regulating online poker.”

However, on behalf of Reid, his spokesperson spoke his mind, saying: “Sen. Reid is not going to abandon the fight, and will continue to seek bipartisan support to legalize online poker that is important to Nevada.”

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