Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Assembly Bill 258 into law on Friday. What was once the most progressive online poker bill ever proposed in the US of A is now just a ‘someday my prince will come’ effort designed to put the legislative/regulatory framework in place for the day that federal politicians finally decide Americans are mature enough to play poker online without laying waste to society’s moral fabric. (No, we’re not the least bit bitter.) Sandoval also signed AB294, which allows the use of mobile gaming devices in hotel rooms. The AB82 campaign reform bill, which would prohibit the kinds of financial contributions made to state legislators by PokerStars prior to Black Friday, is still awaiting Sandoval’s signature.
Will the much-rumored federal poker bill from Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) ever get to the point where it’s ready for a US president’s signature? The Las Vegas Sun recently quoted Barton as saying he’s received a “yellow light” from Republican House leaders to proceed with the introduction of his bill. “This is not a Republican leadership initiative, but they’re aware of it. It’s a sensitive issue, but an issue where there’s a majority consensus in the House and Senate to make this change.”
Maybe, maybe not. Yes, avowed anti-gambling Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), had an apparent change of heart on the issue now that he’s decided to retire in 2012. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), another staunch anti-gambler (and House Financial Services Committee Chairman), told the Sun he was “not opposed” to Barton’s initiative. On the surface, it sure looks like it’s going to be sunshine and lollipops all the way to poker town, but we’re not convinced. Hell, even Barton betrayed his doubts by letting it be known that he would steer his bill away from Bachus to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and sub-panel Chairwoman Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) are allegedly more ‘receptive’ to the notion of online poker legislation.
Nevada’s newest senator, Dean Heller (who only got the job this May after John Ensign resigned for schtupping a subordinate), says he supports the concept of a poker bill, but thinks the Senate should take point “because that’s where it failed last time.” That failed bill was pushed by Nevada’s other senator, Harry Reid, who has had his differences with Barton, but told the Sun that “we’ll work with him – and maybe we’ll win with him – on this.”
How much future help pro-poker politicians can expect from the Poker Players Alliance is now a matter of some debate. Subject: Poker published the first half of an interview with PPA exec director John Pappas, in which Pappas confirmed that, post-Black Friday, PokerStars and Full Tilt have slashed funding of the Interactive Gaming Council, the group from which the PPA received the majority of its traditional $2-3m annual budget. As such, the PPA “certainly don’t have the type of funding we used to have.” The PPA is still rich in opinions, however, such as Pappas’ belief that poker sites that continue to accept US players (here referring specifically to the Cake Network) are “not violating any federal law.” Well, that’s good to know…