AGA, PPA support Harry Reid; state lotteries… not so much


ppa-aga-lotteries-harry-reidOn Friday, American Gaming Association honcho Frank Fahrenkopf became the latest to voice his (and his organization’s) support for the online poker bill being pushed by Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Like Reid, Fahrenkopf stressed the bill’s oversight protections, noting that “current online gambling laws do not provide these safeguards, leaving players and the system open to fraud, cheating and other illegal acts.”

Of course, since Fahrenkopf’s group represents 440 of the nation’s land-based casinos — which make the majority of their bank from slots and table games – Fahrenkopf’s casual attitude towards the supposed absence of said safeguards for online slots, roulette and blackjack speaks volumes.

A Reid supporter without such a conflict of interest is the Poker Player Alliance. The PPA has issues with certain aspects of Reid’s bill, such as the proposed 15-month ‘blackout’ period, during which online poker companies would have to stop servicing American players entirely. As the PPA noted in an email sent to their membership on Thursday, the blackout may be “absurd… but it is a reality.” The PPA is urging its membership to view the blackout as “short-term pain for a long-term gain.”

Those lining up in opposition to Reid’s gambit aren’t limited to those ever amusing anti-gambling Republican zealots like Sen. John Kyl and Rep. Spencer Bachus. In addition to the pro-gambling California Indian tribes who see Reid’s move as horning in on their action, a number of state lottery officials are taking issue with Reid for similar reasons.

Massachusetts’ treasurer elect Steven Grossman sees Reid’s move as “designed to give an advantage to established gambling interests, many of them in Harry Reid’s home of state.” Grossman feels that the clause limiting the initial poker licenses to established gaming operators will shut out state lotteries like Massachusetts and put a dent in the lotteries’ current revenue stream. “For [Reid] to deal us out of the action is outrageous … We could lose $100m from this … Lottery directors all over the country are expressing their deep concerns.”