Possible regulation of online poker in the U.S. is not dead, despite the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in United States, although the prospects of such a bill passing in 2011 are still not good.

A Washington Times article this week addressed the issue of online poker in Congress, saying the failed push for regulation that happened in 2010 faces longer odds since Democrats lost control of the House.

Rep. Barney Frank, who was in charge of the House Financial Services Committee and sponsored a bill that would regulate online poker, lost control of that committee in the new session of Congress. Sen. Harry Reid, who pushed for regulation in December in an effort that ultimately stalled in the Senate, still holds the position of majority leader. However, any legislation he would introduce would also have to be passed be the House.

An excerpt from the Times article:

Mr. Reid is poised to try again this year, but his path may be blocked by Rep. Spencer Bachus, the Alabama Republican who has been named chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and other GOP lawmakers who appear steadfast about keeping online betting illegal in the U.S.

“This is a huge priority for Spencer,” said a top House GOP staffer.

In fact, if Mr. Bachus addresses Internet gambling in the 112th Congress, such action would focus on examining the effectiveness of existing laws and making them tougher, the staffer said.

The author of the Times article also spoke with the head of the Poker Players Alliance:

“I fully expect something early next year,” said John Pappas, executive director of the Washington-based Poker Players Alliance. Mr. Pappas said supporters of Internet gambling are working with Reid staffers to address concerns raised in the failed legislation.

“This is public policy that makes sense,” he said. “Nobody, Republicans or Democrats, can believe the status quo is acceptable — playing [poker] overseas without protection and not realizing any of the revenue.”

A look back at a white paper released on the subject of online poker regulation before the midterm Congressional elections in November also offers some insight, and paints a bleaker picture. The paper from the BolaVerde Media Group looked at the prospects of an online poker bill in a Republican-run House. Here’s some of what they wrote:

It is doubtful that Internet gambling legislation will attract much interest – if any – from newly installed Republican leaders like Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who is expected to become House Speaker.

Politically, Internet gambling has served as little more than a whipping-post issue for the Republican Party; language endorsing its prohibition has formed part of the official G.O.P. manifesto since 2000.

For Boehner to reverse 10 years of Republican doctrine, therefore, is a long shot – a very long shot. It would require him to put his credibility on the line for an issue whose economic upside – between $10 billion and $42 billion over a 10-year period – hardly justifies the risk.

Interestingly, the white paper foresaw the lame-duck effort in December, in which Reid attempted to push the legislation through Congress before the Republicans took over the House in 2011. It noted that attaching the legislation to another bill during the lame-duck session would be the best opportunity for online poker regulation in the current election cycle.

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