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Reid Online Poker Bill: On or Off?

Just as abruptly as it was announced, it’s now being reported that Harry Reid’s plan to regulate and legalize online poker in the U.S. has been dropped — and it’s also being reported that it’s not being dropped. Both sources are reportedly straight from Reid’s office.

It hasn’t even been a week since Senate Majority Leader Reid’s proposed Internet Poker Act of 2010, a plan to get online poker regulated and legalized, was first brought up. But, even though the status of the legislation is uncertain, the media saturation on this story has been incredible, with most major media outlets in the U.S. offering some form of coverage.

Though considered a long shot by some — the Philadelphia Inquirer published an opinion that it was a 1-to-3 shot — others saw hope for the bill if Reid could pass it the same way that then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist passed the UIGEA in the first place, back in 2006: By attaching it to a larger, must-pass bill, perhaps a tax bill.

“This last-minute legislative effort gives voters who desire the freedom to play online a chance to stick it to the Republicans, whose sneaky tactics in 2006 still affect many of today’s issues related to online gambling payments,” wrote Jim Quinn at the Off Shore Gambling Association’s website.

Some pretty big names support the idea, with stating that it’s “a no-brainer,” and “Reid’s turnaround is welcome — and long overdue. The proposed policy change makes fiscal sense.”

The plan also faced resistance from the beginning, from both political parties: Fellow Democrat and Massachusetts state Treasurer-elect Steven Grossman asked Reid to drop the bill, pointing out that federal online gambling laws would hurt state lotteries, per BusinessWeek.

Local casino interests in Nevada also spoke out against the plan. “Bonanza General Manager Ryan Sheltra says it would be a gold mine for the international casino corporations on the Las Vegas Strip who would get the poker licenses,” Reno’s KLAS-TV 8 News reported. “But he says it would further harm the smaller casinos across northern Nevada that have already been through a ‘blood bath’ brought on by the Great Recession.”

There was also resistance against the proposal because it would shut out some international operators like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker — both huge in the United States — for over a year.

More predictably, conservatives were quick to speak out against the bill. “Ranking Republicans have voice opposition to the plan, saying the measure will add to the deficit,” according to also published an argument from University of Illinois business professor John W. Kindt on the possible negative economic impacts of the plan — although, interestingly, the same things the conservatives cite as negatives, Internet gambling advocates claim are positives, such as a greater proliferation of online casinos through mobile and personal devices.

More coverage of this story can also be found at CNN, CBS, ABC News, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,,, and