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Republican Support for Online Poker Bill Needed

“I’ve talked to leadership and a couple of colleagues,” Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) told the Las Vegas Review-Journal to “make sure … all of them have an idea of what we are trying to push in this effort.” Heller is one of three senators looking to carve out a niche for legalized online poker on the national level. Along with fellow Nevada Senator and Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) Heller is trying to whip-up support among his republican colleagues in order to pass an Internet poker bill that will keep the federal government from losing power over the industry to the states.

With as many as 16 states looking at legalizing online gaming (Nevada and Delaware being the furthest along) the fear is that if the federal government does not pass an online gaming bill this year by the time they do get around to passing one they will have no choice but to exempt states that have already passed online poker/gaming legislation.

The bill being proposed by Reid and Kyl would only allow for online poker; all other forms of online gaming would see restrictions and laws strengthened. This is what brought Senator Kyl, one of the architects of the 2006 UIGEA bill that basically began the decline of the online poker industry in the US, abroad, and this is what will give the bill some chance of passage by bringing in Republican support, although it will likely only be a handful of Republicans voting for the bill.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal article, the bill would have little chance of passing as a stand-alone law, and will need to be attached to another, less controversial, piece of legislation –similar to how UIGEA was passed in 2006 as part of the Safe Ports Act.

The beneficiaries of the bill would look to be the major casino corporations in Red and Heller’s home state of Nevada, many of which have already laid the groundwork to offer online poker by partnering with established online gaming providers, and many of which have already applied for Nevada licenses.

With time running out in the 2012 session, and with the scrutiny of an election year, the proponents of the bill may very well be fighting an uphill battle, and it seems that Senate Majority Harry Reid understands this all too well saying that while he and Kyl have been talking, “we’re now waiting again, as I do with a lot of things around here, to get some Republican support.”

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