US Senate schedules internet gambling hearing; no date for third House hearing

us-senate-hearing-online-pokerAmerican federal politicians have announced their first substantive reaction to the Department of Justice’s pre-Christmas Wire Act clarification. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 9 at 2pm titled “Oversight Hearing on the US Department of Justice Opinion on Internet Gaming: What’s At Stake for Tribes?” There’s no indication of who might testify at the hearing, although Mohegan Tribe chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum is a likely suspect, having proved a compelling advocate for Indian-run online gaming at the Nov. 17 Senate hearing on the subject.

The House of Representatives was supposed to convene its third hearing on the online poker issue sometime early this year, but no date has as yet been announced. The delay is apparently to allow House members to clarify in their own minds just what options remain open in the wake of the DoJ’s new opinion. On Tuesday, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing chairwoman Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA) said the DoJ’s opinion had created considerable uncertainty for the legal future of online gambling. Whenever Bono-Mack schedules her next hearing, she says DoJ and other law enforcement officials will likely be given plenty of time to explain themselves.

Whether or not “Two Dogs” Bozsum gets to give federal politicians another online poker primer, he’s definitely got the ear of Dannel Malloy, governor of Connecticut, where the Mohegan tribe operates the highly lucrative Mohegan Sun Casino. Bozsum told NPR he called Malloy immediately upon learning of the DoJ’s new opinion, and while Malloy claims to be no fan of gambling expansion, the politician is sufficiently astute to recognize that swift action is imperative if his state doesn’t want to get left behind. “New Jersey Gov. [Chris Christie] has announced that he wants New Jersey to be the online gaming capital of the world tied to the presence of the casino industry, which is competitive with our industry in the state of Connecticut. We’ve got to watch those things.” Watching is good, Dannel, but acting is better…