According to a Politico article released on Thursday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) still plans to pursue legislation legalizing and regulating online poker, but likely won’t do so as part of the tax relief bill.

The Politico piece noted that language legalizing online poker was absent from a version of the tax bill released on Thursday. The news outlet explained, “Reid could still insert the poker legalization into the tax cut bill if additional modifications are made before a final vote is cast sometime next week. Or he could slip the plan into a mammoth $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that has yet to be unveiled, but is necessary to keep the government funded through September. Any option is certain to generate backlash from the GOP.”

The Las Vegas Sun reported earlier this week that Reid’s online poker bill was all but dead, but quickly retracted the story after the Senate Majority Leader’s comments were taken out of context. However, it appears that the legislation is still alive, at least until next week’s scheduled end to the lame duck session. Reid issued a press statement on Thursday that read in part, “The legislation I am working on would get our collective heads out of the sand and create a strict regulatory environment to protect U.S. consumers, prevent underage gambling, and respect the decisions of states that don’t allow gambling.”

Also commenting on the bill on Thursday was the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), which addressed the 15-month blackout period in an e-mail sent to members: “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.” During the period, no online poker sites would be able to service the U.S. market legally.

The PPA reminded readers that a period of 15 months without legalized online poker may be more beneficial than continued industry decline: “We believe that the trade off for getting regulated, permanent U.S. 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.”

After the 15-month blackout period, existing casino companies in the United States would be able to procure licenses. Then, after two more years, other companies would be able to service the market.
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The legislative scene on internet gambling legalisation in California has been revitalised this week with a fresh attempt by the Morongo Band of Indians and its associates to legalise online poker and now a fresh attempt by Senator Rod Wright, who launched his SB45 proposal late Wednesday.

The Capitol Weekly reports that the senator’s latest bill has echoes of his previously proposed SB1485, which was moderately successful but failed to survive before the mid-term elections truncated the last state Senate session.

The newspaper reports that both bills would require the California Gambling Control Commission to enter into contracts with up to three hub operators. The operators would be allowed to offer online poker to California residents under contracts lasting up to 20 years.

On Monday, Senator Lou Correa introduced poker legislation on behalf of the California Online Poker Association (COPA), an outfit led by two southern California gaming tribes, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Correa’s SB 40 calls on the California Gambling Control Commission to offer a licence to offer online poker within California.

A COPA spokesman referred to attempts at federal level by Nevada Senator Harry Reid to federally regulate and legalise online poker, telling The Capitol Weekly:

“COPA opposes the current lame-duck effort by Harry Reid because it hurts California. Reid’s effort rewards the Nevada gaming interests that gave him hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations during the recent election.

“California has a $25 billion deficit and an unemployment rate of 12%. Any revenues generated by Internet poker in California should stay within the state and not be shipped off to Washington, D.C., or Nevada or even offshore.”

Source: InfoPowa News
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On Tuesday, Politico published an article revealing that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was attempting to add a bill legalizing online poker to the measure extending tax cuts.

Politico confirmed Reid’s desires with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Hatch told the political news outlet, “They’re trying. Sen. Reid would like to do that.” Despite Hatch’s confirmation that Reid was attempting to add an online poker rider to the tax bill, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), one of the masterminds of the original Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), would not allow the plan to come to fruition. Kyl told Politico, “[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.”

Further complicating the matter is an agreement reached between U.S. President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans. Whether Reid will be able to inject a measure that many consider to be a favor for Caesars Entertainment (formerly Harrah’s Entertainment) and MGM Resorts International, two of his biggest financial supporters, remains to be seen. One Congressional staff member told Politico, “You could call him ‘Harrah Reid’ at this point.”

Also coming out against Reid’s online poker legislation is the National Indian Gaming Association, which told Politico on Tuesday, “[The bill] is drafted to create an initial regulatory monopoly for Nevada and New Jersey for the first several years, which gives Las Vegas operators time to capture the market.” Several draft versions of the bill show that the U.S. market would only be open to existing land-based casino companies for the first two years. Then, other gambling outfits could join the fray and offer online poker.

Not optimistic about the chances of Reid’s legislation passing was Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) Chairman Joe Brennan, who told Poker News Daily on Wednesday, “Based on reports, it seems highly unlikely given the tax deal cut by President Obama that Senator Reid will have the leverage necessary to include this bill as part of the tax relief package.”

The Politico article was referenced in a barrage of stories on Wednesday, including one that appeared in the Huffington Post. Meanwhile, Capitol Weekly sourced a draft of the bill as saying, “The provisions of this title shall supersede any provisions of the law of any state or tribe relating to internet gambling facilities, including internet poker facilities.” In essence, according to Capitol Weekly, “Reid’s bill would throw a monkey wrench into an effort by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians to push forward a tribe-run internet poker franchise in California.”

Language in Reid’s bill, a draft of which appeared on Politico’s website and clocked in at 157 pages, read in part, “A new market should be limited, at least initially, to service providers that have an established track record of complying with a strict regulatory environment, have an established track record of providing fair games to consumers, and have significant goodwill and assets at stake, in addition to their internet poker assets, to ensure they would comply strictly with the new regulatory regime.”

The text also mandates, “No qualified body may issue a license under this title before the date that is 15 months after the date of the enactment of this Act.” What would happen to the online poker industry in the United States during so-called the 15-month “blackout period” is not clear. Posters on forums like TwoPlusTwo and PocketFives.com, however, have been up in arms over the 15-month restriction.

According to The Hill, the “lame duck” Congressional session will wrap up next Friday.

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Here’s a fun fact about the history of online poker legislation, courtesy of a reader who happens to be an online poker aficianado. Online gaming was actually legal and unregulated until the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was tacked on to the SAFE Port Act, which was supposed to cover port security. The SAFE Port Act was passed late at night, right before Congress adjourned for the 2006 elections.

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Washington (CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, may have to fold his efforts to push a measure legalizing online poker in the United States into a tax-cut bill, in light of strenuous opposition from Republicans.

Such a provision would greatly benefit some of Reid’s biggest campaign backers — those in the gaming industry, which has been lobbying for the change.

But when Reid was asked Wednesday afternoon whether he was still pushing the poker bill during the congressional lame-duck session, he said, “We are still working on it,” according to this office.

Democratic and Republican sources had told CNN Reid was pushing for the provision to be included in the bill to extend the Bush-era tax cuts.

One of those leading the opposition is Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, who vowed to block any attempt to include the poker legalization in the tax bill.

Wednesday afternoon Kyl told CNN the measure was dead, saying, “Senator Reid has agreed with me that it will not happen.”

Reid’s office refused CNN’s request to discuss his push for the legalization.

The support by the four-term Nevada Democrat, who won re-election in November, for the online poker measure is an apparent reversal. When Congress addressed online betting in 2006, Reid opposed its legalization.

Some House Republicans also bristled at news Reid was attempting to shoehorn the Nevada-friendly legislation into the tax deal.

“Creating a federal right to gamble that has never existed in our country’s history and imposing an unprecedented new tax regime on such activity require careful deliberation, not back-room deals or earmarks for special interests,” Republican Reps. Spencer Bachus of the Financial Services Committee; Dave Camp of the Ways and Means Committee and Lamar Smith of the Judiciary Committee wrote last week to Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Between 2005-2010 Reid’s campaign and his leadership political action committee received $224,450 from MGM Resorts and $113,450 from Harrah’s Entertainment, making them some of his largest contributors, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the influence of money in politics. MGM and Harrah’s did not respond to requests for comment.

“It sure looks like payback,” a Republican congressional official told CNN.

According to a draft of the proposed measure obtained by CNN, large, established gambling companies would be the biggest winners if the legislation passed.

It would legalize online poker basically only in Nevada and New Jersey. The draft bill says that online poker could be offered only by businesses that have 500 or more slot machines in the same building. That includes huge casinos in Nevada and New Jersey and would make ineligible most Indian-land casinos and even long-standing poker places throughout California because they don’t have slot machines.

Seventy percent of the revenues from a new internet gambling trust fund would go to the states sponsoring the poker, presumably Nevada and New Jersey. Only 30% would go to any of the other states where the person playing is based.

Also the proposal includes new rules that would make it easier to bet on horse races. Republican congressional officials suspect that is an attempt to entice support from the senator from the biggest horse-racing state, Kentucky — Mitch McConnell..
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Source: CNN

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Right now there is a lot of buzz in the online gambling industry over the possibility of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attaching an online poker bill to must-pass legislation during the lame duck session. There are a lot of good and bad things being said about the bill, which few people have seen.

The bill would essentially render UIGEA useless even if it doesn’t totally repeal it. That would be good news for online gamblers in the U.S. who are having trouble finding casinos that will accept them. No one has reported yet on the licensing fees or the tax rate, but there are a couple reported regulations that have some in the business angry.

One reported regulation would only allow casinos that have existed at least 5 years in the United States to offer online gambling. That would benefit the old casino industries in places like Las Vegas (where Reid represents) and Atlantic City while discriminating against states with new casino industries. The bill also supposedly would not allow tribal casinos to provide online gambling sites.

Another regulation that is drawing the ire of poker players is a rule that would make them wait 15 months without playing poker online. It will take 15 months from the time the law is passed for the regulation to be put in place. That type of regulatory delay is common and it is the reason laws take so long to go into effect. However, Reid’s bill purportedly states that online casinos cannot receive a license if they have accepted U.S. players within 30 days of the bill being passed. That means a period of 15 months (or more) in which any online gambling website that wants to be licensed in the U.S. will not allow any American customers. .
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Harry Reid has drafted a poker bill. Entitled “Internet Poker Act of 2010. MakePokerLegal.com has received the draft. To view the draft click Internet Poker Act of 2010

We at Makepokerlegal.com support this Bill, along with my Brother Mike Matusow. Please use our front page at www.makepokerlegal.com LEFT HAND SIDE OF PAGE, to contact your congress people and Senators and write them, telling them you want them to pass it!!

We have also included this in our Forums Section. Discuss the Internet Poker Act of 2010
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing behind the scenes for lame-duck legislation that would allow poker games over the Internet but restrict initial licenses to casinos and racetrack operators that have been in businesses at least five years.

Some of the biggest casino operators in Reid’s home state of Nevada are eager to get a piece of the online gambling industry, which generates an estimated $5 billion a year for offshore operators.

A congressional aide familiar with the issue said Reid aides were circulating the draft legislation, and a copy of it was obtained by The Associated Press. The aide was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and did so only on condition of anonymity.

Four years ago, Congress effectively banned online gambling, passing legislation that prohibits banks and credit card companies from making payments to gambling websites. Supporters of online poker face less opposition with Democrats in charge of both chambers for another month. The House Financial Services Committee this year approved a bill that established a regulatory structure for online gambling.

Reid’s office would not answer questions about the legislation.

But sensing that supporters are in a hurry to lift the ban, three leading Republicans in the House wrote to Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., this week to say they oppose any attempt to legalize Internet gambling during the current legislative session.

They said using online gaming to generate revenue for the federal government would bring social and economic harm to many families.

“Congress should not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending,” Republican Reps. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, Dave Camp of Michigan and Lamar Smith of Texas said in the letter. Bachus is in line to become chairman of the Financial Services Committee next month, Camp will take over the Ways and Means Committee and Smith is expected to head the Judiciary Committee. The three committees have jurisdiction over Internet gambling matters.

Most of the legislative work this year concerning online gambling has taken place in the House, where supporters say that prohibition didn’t work with alcohol and it’s not working with online gambling. People continue to participate but in an underground, unregulated market.

“We are not talking about an activity that harms others where we properly step in,” Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the current Financial Services chairman, said at a hearing this year. “We are talking about a decision by adults to do what they want with their own money.”

Under the draft legislation circulated to various Senate offices, states and Indian tribes would oversee regulation of the online poker license-holders.

Casino companies were among Reid’s biggest campaign donors in the last election. MGM Resorts International, through its employees and political action committee, donated $192,000 to his campaign, the most of any single company, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Meanwhile, employees and the PAC at Harrah’s Entertainment chipped in an additional $83,100. Harrah’s recently changed its name to Caesars Entertainment Corp.

Poker’s popularity has soared in recent years, with casinos around the country regularly sponsoring poker tournaments, some of which are shown on television. The winner of this year’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas won nearly $9 million. The tournament featured more than 7,300 players willing to pay a $10,000 entry fee.

With online poker, players generally deposit money into an account through their credit card. They join a table with other players following along on their computer. A software program deals cards to each participant. And when it’s time to bet, the program automatically prompts a player to bet, hold or fold. The program also keeps a running tab of how many chips a player accumulates or lose. When players have finished their game, they click on a cashier tab that shows how much a player’s account has increased or decreased.
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Staffers for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are circulating a bill to legalize poker playing on the Internet that’s backed by large casino interests.

The Nevada casino companies pushing the measure were among the Democrat’s biggest donors during his fierce re-election fight. They argue the bill would provide consumer protection for poker players and would provide some tax revenue for federal and state governments.

On Wednesday, three Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Mr. Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) opposing any efforts to pass Internet poker legislation during the lame-duck session.

“Congress should not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending,” Rep. Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), the ranking Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee and others wrote.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, declined to comment.

Mr. Reid, who has opposed online gambling in the past, is holding his cards close to his vest regarding plans to move forward with the legislation. Passing such a measure is highly uncertain as the heated session winds down, given the sensitive nature of the subject.

Previous attempts at online-gambling legislation haven’t moved forward, but casino interests believe that given Mr. Reid’s powerful position atop the Senate, he might be able to push the poker measure into another bill, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The legislation would overturn a bill passed in 2006 that bans financial institutions from processing online-gambling transactions. That led publicly traded companies to pull out from operating online sites in the U.S. In their place, offshore sites have gathered an estimated 10 million U.S. poker players, according to the Poker Players Alliance.

According to the draft of the bill reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Reid’s office is considering language that would allow only existing casinos, horse tracks and slot-machine makers to operate online poker websites for the first two years after the bill passes, which could limit the ability of other companies to enter the market.

The bill would also outsource oversight to state regulators, another move supported by existing casinos that don’t want to see the federal government become overly involved in regulating their industry.

The bill as drafted would send taxes on wagers to both federal and state governments.

Alan Feldman, a spokesman for MGM Resorts International, a large Las Vegas-based casino company, said he hoped such a bill had a possibility of rushing through in the next few weeks. “A lot of things happen in this kind of time frame,” he said.

Internet gambling has been a top priority for the Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp., which recently changed its name from Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and is the largest casino company in the world by revenue. The company owns the popular World Series of Poker brand that it hopes to parlay into online success to make up for anemic growth in its U.S. casino markets.
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