American poker players are working themselves up into a lather over an article on Politico.com touting the efforts of Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) to hype the revenue-generating benefits of online poker to the so-called ‘super committee.’ This bipartisan group of 12 US lawmakers has until Nov. 23 to agree on a plan to trim a trillion or two from America’s bloated budget deficit. Many online poker backers see the must-pass legislation that emerges from the committee’s dirty dozen as the perfect vehicle to carry signature-ready online poker legislation to President Barack Obama’s desk.
Friday is the deadline for politicians to make recommendations to the super committee, and Politico claims that the ‘unlikely duo’ of Barton and Frank are actively promoting the billions of dollars a regulated online poker market could bring to US Treasury coffers. Barton claims to have spoken with committee member Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) about online poker, and that the issue is “being seriously considered” by the committee.
However, Barton conceded that real movement on the issue depends on two other pols: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the most senior booster of online poker in Washington, and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), super committee member and the man most directly responsible for killing Reid’s late-2010 online poker bill. This past April, poker fans celebrated ambiguous statements on Kyl’s website that suggested he’d had an epiphany on the merits of online poker. Others pointed to the joint letter sent by Reid and Kyl to Attorney General Eric Holder seeking to clarify the Department of Justice’s stance re online poker as proof that Reid and Kyl are drawing closer to a unified position on the issue.
SORRY, BUT NO
Poker players and Politico seem to have completely missed the Las Vegas Sun article this Monday that effectively erased any ambiguity in Kyl’s gambling stance. Asked about the chances of online poker becoming part of any super committee recommendations, Kyl bluntly stated: “I don’t think that would happen. And I wouldn’t support it.” [emphasis added]
Kyl has already announced he won’t seek reelection in 2012, which made it all the more curious that people would assume he’d suddenly reverse his cherished anti-gambling stance on his way out the door. Given his morality-based arguments for opposing online gambling, it’s far more likely that he plans on riding off into the sunset having stuck to his guns; if heaven falls, it won’t have been on his watch. Supremely confident in his ability to torpedo regulated poker at the federal level, Kyl’s letter to Holder seems to have been solely intended to head off any upstart state politicians from attempting to bypass federal authority and go the intrastate route.
As for Reid, the same Las Vegas Sun article quoted him as saying “online poker, frankly, is way back in my head.” In addition to the obvious distraction of his wife’s cancer treatments, Reid has possibly grown a little more pragmatic on his ability to pass such legislation now that Senate Republicans have declared their intention to fuck him over for his alleged use of the ‘nuclear option’ last week. So it would seem US online poker fans hoping for an early Christmas present from Washington would do well to dial back their expectations. How about a nice sweater instead?
[Super Committee image by DonkeyHokey]