After days of rumors, misinformation and general media mayhem, Senate majority leader Harry Reid has finally made a public statement about his online poker bill. Reid said that his bill is “is “good for the country and for Nevada,” yet he gave no indication as to where the bill currently stood with his fellow lawmakers (on either side of the aisle) nor whether he intends to attach his bill (as widely expected) to the upcoming must-pass tax bill. The version of the tax bill published late Thursday did not include Reid’s bill, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t attempt to tack it on before the tax bill comes up for a vote next week. Another option would be the omnibus spending bill, the details of which have yet to be revealed.
In his statement, Reid focused on what he hoped his bill would accomplish, saying that it was an opportunity to “get our collective heads out of the sand … internet poker is played by millions of Americans every day in an essentially unregulated environment, meaning no protections for minors, no respect for state law, no assurance that games are fair and honest, and no one to turn to if you’re defrauded.” Harry seems to think that the US, which has indeed had its ostrich-like head buried in the sand on the issue of online gaming for over a decade now, has something to teach the international operators based out of London, the center of the online gaming universe and home to the most exacting regulators in the business. But please, Harry, do continue…
Reid reiterated his unwillingness to incorporate any other form of online gaming besides poker into his proposed legislation, saying that he still had “serious concerns about legalizing the broad range of casino-type gambling through the internet.” But, Harry… What about all those millions of Americans currently playing slots, roulette and blackjack in that very same ‘essentially unregulated’ environment? What about all those unprotected minors? What about the utter lack of assurance that games are fair and honest, and the prospect of gamblers being left with no one to turn to if they’re defrauded? Well, fuck ‘em, I guess.
See, Harry’s deep-pocketed Nevada-based casino giants don’t make much money from their land-based poker rooms, so they don’t have all that much to lose by backing online poker. But slots and table games are still their cash cows, and they aren’t about to let anybody else milk their herds. So we guess Harry’s right about one thing, at least — the bill is good for Nevada. At least, good for those who own casinos there.