“We can pass it in the House”: U.S. online poker bill update
In an interview last week with PocketFives.com, U.S. Representative Joe Barton has expressed a pretty confident attitude about his legislation that seeks to regulate internet poker in the United States of America.
“It really depends on how much effort [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid wants to give in the Senate,” said Barton. “If he wants to make sure it gets a vote in the Senate, we can pass it in the House. If he is reluctant to put too much effort in, it’s going to be hard to get Speaker Boehner and [Committee Chairman] Fred Upton of Michigan to move the bill in the House.”
Barton elaborates on the need for Reid to join his efforts: “My sense from talking to my staff, who has talked to his staff and some of the stakeholders, is that he’s very supportive and very interested in it,” said Barton, a Texas Republican.
“He and I together make a pretty good combination – a Democrat Majority Leader in the Senate and a former Republican Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House.”
For his part, Reid seems determined to pass online gaming regulation in the U.S., too.
In fact, in a move that borders on shocking, Reid joined forces with political opponent (and strong anti-gambling nut advocate) Jon Kyl to draft a letter to the U.S. attorney general.
“In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Reid, D-Nev., and Kyl, R-Ariz., ask the department to reiterate its position that federal law prohibits gambling over the Internet, including intrastate gaming, which could affect lotteries,” reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Remember: The U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, is the guy behind the “Black Friday” crackdowns, so Reid and Kyl’s move could be seen as disapproval of that activity.
In fact, the letter specifically asks why the war on online gambling was launched on April 15 “after taking no action for several years.”
“This lack of activity by law enforcement led to a significant and growing perception that operating Internet poker and other Internet gambling did not violate U.S. laws, or at least that the Department of Justice thought that the case was uncertain enough that it choose not to pursue enforcement actions,” the letter states.
The good news, besides the fact that Senator Kyl is stepping down next year, is that his actions here may represent an easing of the Republican leadership’s usually harsh stance against online gambling. That inflexible, hardline attitude is effectively responsible for the UIGEA in the first place.
No new internet gambling bill from AGA
Meanwhile, reports earlier this month that the AGA was planning to release its own online gambling regulation seem to have been false.
“First the AGA is not actively opposing the (Congressman) Barton bill,” an AGA spokesperson GamingToday. “We have been neutral on all introduced legislation related to online poker, and the same is true of the Barton bill. We believe it’s a step in the right direction.”
“More importantly, the AGA does not have its own bill and does not have plans to introduce its own bill. If a bill is introduced that meets our board’s approval, certainly we will consider supporting it. But we are not drafting our own bill.”