Nevada Senator Harry Reid Now Says He Wants 100% Ban on Online Gambling

Nevada Senator Harry Reid has changed his stance once more and is now calling for a complete ban on online gambling in the United States. Sen. Reid had been calling for an online poker carve out as late as last week. Previously, Harry Reid had supported legalization of both Internet casinos and poker sites.

Harry Reid stated his new position in a recent interview with the Las Vegas Sun. In the published interview, Reid said he had been working for an online poker carve out, but it is not possible. With that possibility no longer feasible, he prefers a comprehensive ban on Internet gaming.

“I Haven’t Made Up My Mind”

Reid told the Las Vegas Sun, “Unless we can get something done with poker, I’m going to look closely–I haven’t made up my mind–but I’m going to look closely into banning it totally. I’m going to take a hard look at it. It would be something I would certainly consider strongly.”

As a long time senator from Nevada, Harry Reid is quite familiar with the state of the gambling industry. Voters might expect a senator who has been elected to 5 terms to have settled opinions on issues which effect their state in such a profound fashion. Yet the senator, who has long been viewed as a proponent of online gambling, now appears to be drifting into the opposite camp.

No Longer Needs Donations from Gaming Companies

Reid has announced he would not be running for reelection, so outside observers would assume the lawmaker is not seeking big donations from Sheldon Adelson, who has made it known that a comprehensive gaming ban is his chief domestic policy goal. That has not stopped the gaming media from making those charges against Harry Reid, due to his changing position on the issue.

The Nevada senator explained his evolving position on the online gambling issue. He said, “I worked very hard to get online poker. I thought (it) would be great for the state of Nevada, it’s something that is done recreationally around the world. I thought it would be great for Nevada to get it controlled. That didn’t work, could not get it done.

2012 Poker Bill with Sen. Jon Kyl

Reid has sought online poker legalization since 2012, when he and Senator Jon Kyl worked on a bipartisan gaming bill. Even then, he was an opponent of online casino regulation. Some gambling writers have explained Reid’s late deviation as a betrayal of the gambling industry, because he no longer needs the gambling lobby’s campaign donations.

Such thought processes might paint with too broad of a brush. The gambling lobby of Nevada is a great deal less enthusiastic with online gaming than the wider industry. Two of the four leading casino executives in the state have declared their hostility to or expressed skepticism about iGaming. While Sheldon Adelson has been outright hostile to the idea, Steve Wynn (though he flirted with the notion at first) has said that the money is not there for land-based gaming companies to invest in the online casino industry.

Casino Gaming Community Split on the Issue

MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment are more receptive to the possibilities of regulated online gambling. Both companies have an investment in the Atlantic City casino industry, so they have assets sunk into the New Jersey online gambling industry. While Nevada legalized iPoker in the state, it has banned online casinos. Meanwhile, the state’s gaming companies have been lukewarm in trying to create an online poker community, despite an interstate poker compact with Delaware. One gets the idea that the Las Vegas Strip gaming companies all see online gambling in much the same way Steve Wynn does–as a kind of penny-ante form of business.

Sen. Harry Reid’s support or hostility for the online gambling industry is not likely to matter. Though both houses of Congress are controlled by the Republicans, the party which sponsored Restore America’s Wire Act, they do not appear to be firmly behind RAWA. Sheldon Adelson is one of the GOP’s biggest donors, but even he does not seem to be able to convince many Republicans to go along with the online gambling ban.

GOP Opponents of RAWA Bill

Some Republicans see the RAWA as a state’s rights issue. They believe allowing the federal government to ban gaming which certain states want as a vast expansion of federal power–one which could make a bad precedent for other issues. Other lawmakers see the gambling issue from a libertarian point-of-view, believing any laws which tells citizens what they can do (when they aren’t hurting other) impinges on a human being’s basic rights. The libertarian wing of the GOP believes it is no business of the government’s whether citizens gamble in the privacy of their own home.

With that in mind, most people believe Restore America’s Wire Act does not have the votes needed. Thus Harry Reid’s flip-flop on the issue appears inconsequential.

Harry Reid: Right-Wing Whipping Boy

As the one-time Senate Majority Leader (and current Minority Leader), Harry Reid has long been a whipping boy for the right-wing press. This week, he gave sports fans a reason to ridicule him when he came out strong in the Tom Brady Deflategate Scandal. Tom Brady, quarterback for the World Champion New England Patriots, was suspended 4 games for probably knowing about a plot to deflate balls during the AFC Championship Game, where the Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7.

Harry Reid on the Tom Brady Scandal

The Patriots franchise was fined $1,000,000 and lost their 1st round draft pick in 2016, which is perhaps the most serious penalty of all. Harry Reid was not happy with the decision. He believed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was focusing on the wrong issue.

Reid said in an interview, “I find it stunning that the National Football League is more concerned about how much air is in a football than with a racist franchise name that denigrates Native Americans. I wish the commissioner would act as swiftly and decisively in changing the name of the DC team as he did about not enough air in a football.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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