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Reiding His Opponents, Senator Draws New Hand in Online Poker Legislation

As we’ve been reporting here at, all eyes in the online gambling industry are on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada) as he works to modify a last-minute plan to regulate online poker.

Reid’s reportedly trying to get this legislation finished before the end of the year, when the balance of power in Congress will shift in favor of a more conservative (and less online-gambling friendly).

That means he’s also making some big changes to meet that deadline. The biggest is the changing of the bill to online poker-only. “The bill … would legalize only Internet poker, not games like roulette or where players are betting against the casino,” Reuters reports.

The new version of the bill also seeks to accommodate previous opponents of the plan “such as adding California card rooms to the list of Eligible Licensees,”’s Peter Amsel notes,  pointing out some other big changes:

  • Reducing the licensing fee from 20 percent to 16 percent of online casino revenue;
  • A new stipulation allowing Federal groups (like the Treasury and Justice Departments) time to tweak their own regulations to allow for the new law; and
  • The option for states with their own intrastate online gaming plans to opt out.

Pay attention to that last bullet point: Now that states would have the option to make their own laws above and beyond the federal online gambling laws, places like New Jersey and California would likely set up their own systems.

And that could spell more havoc for international online gambling brands and affiliate marketing, which would be upset by new, confusing systems where a poker room would possibly be allowed in one state, but not the other.

“[W]e’re going on record as saying that NO poker company currently serving the US market will EVER be granted a license,” Amsel adds as a grim prediction of what would happen under the new laws (which he believes won’t be passed anyway).

Amsel then launches into an interesting analysis of the money wasted by international poker rooms lobbying for a bill that would probably hurt them more than it helps them. Read his article here.