Harry Reid Now Singing the Praises of Former Whipping Boy Dean Heller
Earlier this year when a bill that would have regulated online poker at the federal level failed to gain any traction in Congress, Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid did not hold back in terms of laying the blame at the feet of the junior Senator from his home state, Dean Heller.
From late 2012 into early 2013, Reid pulled few punches when remarking that the reason the draft legislation, known as the Reid/Kyl Bill, didn’t make any headway in the halls of Congress was due to a lack of Republican support. More specifically, Reid said at the time that he believed his GOP colleague Heller failed at his job of drumming up support for a federal online poker measure among his Republican party cohorts.
Senate subcommittee meeting held this week to address Internet gaming issue
After a meeting this week by the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection – a meeting that was led by Senator Heller and was mostly comprised of lawyers and representatives from the land-based casino industry – Reid was full of compliments for his fellow statesman. Heller told the media this week that the two are working together on new legislation that they intend to present in the Senate.
“This was a very, very good hearing. I helped him prepare for this,” Reid said of Wednesday’s Heller-led meeting.
Two bills addressing the issue of Internet gaming have already been introduced in the United States House of Representatives. A bill sponsored by Representative Peter King, Republican from the state of New York, would allow for comprehensive online gambling, which means that online poker would be permitted in addition to a range of other games, including electronic forms of classic casino games like blackjack and roulette.
By contrast, a bill introduced last week by Texas Representative Joe Barton, also a Republican, limits the scope of iGaming at the national level to online poker only. Barton’s new bill is similar to legislation he has introduced in previous sessions, and industry pundits have said that they see little hope of Barton’s bill gaining passage.
Panel addressed concerns about security, money laundering
At issue in the debate about regulated online gambling at the national level are such concerns as security, money laundering, and other important factors. Proponents of regulating the market point out that the hodgepodge of state gambling laws and the ambiguity of federal gambling law make it easier for unscrupulous, offshore gambling companies to operate in what is essentially a legal grey area.
“What we have here is a free-for-all. Shame on us if we don’t get something done on this. When I think about the issues of money laundering, terrorism [and] drug trafficking, … I hope this is something we move on very quickly,” remarked Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican from New Hampshire, speaking to concerns felt by lawmakers and gambling industry experts alike as states continue to address the issue of Internet gambling on their own in the absence of action at the federal level.
Reid likely still dubious about online poker’s chances
Though he made no such comments this week, Senator Reid, one of the highest ranking Democrats in the country, has said repeatedly that he does not believe the current Congress will be capable of making any sort of progress toward regulated online gambling in the United States, not only because of a lack of Republican support, but also owing to the fact that Congress is basically gridlocked by partisan squabbling. Reid said earlier this year that he didn’t expect online poker to become a serious issue for consideration until 2014.
Speaking after the panel meeting on Wednesday, Heller pointed out that online gambling is here to stay, and that problems with the marketplace must be solved.
“This was a good foundation, to make sure people know, one, we have a problem, and two, let’s fix the problem. And when we fix the problem, Internet poker ought to be part of the solution,” Heller said.
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