Outgoing AGA Head Says Federal Online Poker Bill to be Introduced
Appearing on a local television program in Nevada last week, Ralston Reports, the outgoing head of the AGA, Frank Fahrenkopf, said that he expects a bill to regulate online poker at the federal level will be introduced in Congress within the next few weeks.
This proclamation has come as a bit of a surprise to many observers of the online gambling industry, a great number of whom presumed the issue to be a dead one, at least for the near future, considering the petering out of the Reid/Kyl Bill during the lame-duck session of the last Congress.
Furthermore, the difficult political makeup of the current legislature has cast doubt on the prospects of such legislation, with even Senator Reid himself confessing that moving a bill to regulate online poker through the House, especially, would not be an easily accomplished feat.
In response to a question from the host of the show, which focuses primarily on Silver State politics, Jon Ralston, as to whether online poker might be an issue addressed at the national level anytime soon, Fahrenkopf said, “I’ve been doing a lot of talking on the Hill the last couple of weeks. And I think that we may see one quite soon, in the House.”
Fahrenkopf agreed with Senator Reid’s oft-stated belief that getting any real traction on the issue of online poker would be “like threading a needle because of so many things on the agenda in Washington.” Yet, he went on to acknowledge that Congress is not liable to ignore for long the fact that a great number of states are acting at the state level to legalize, regulate, and most importantly, tax, various forms of Internet-based gambling.
“But there’s still an effort in the House,” Fahrenkopf told Ralston, adding, “I think there are some members of Congress that are normally anti-gaming who view a poker as the lesser of a lot of evils. So I’m still hopeful we can get something done.”
As to which bill would be introduced – the Barton Bill or the Reid/Kyl Bill – it remains to be seen. It is wholly possible that the legislation that comes to the House floor will be a hybrid of both. While Fahrenkopf was not definitive in his remarks as to precisely where the legislation would originate, there was one topic on which he did not equivocate: that of now-retired Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, who was widely blamed for failing to drum up enough GOP support for the Reid/Kyl Bill.
Referring to Kyl directly, Fahrenkopf said he “created problems for us along the way.”
Whether or not what Fahrenkopf told Ralston proves to be true, there are a handful of places in the United States where online poker will soon be on the offering, among them Nevada and Delaware, both of which have already passed legislation to regulate the game. New Jersey is set to follow suit by the end of this month; it is expected that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will sign into law an Internet gambling bill on either February 26 or February 27.
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