The interwebz went crazy early Friday morning after Global Gaming Business’ Roger Gros tweeted the following: “Source: NV Gov. Sandoval calls top casino execs and tells them of agreement between Reid & Kyl, adding internet poker to payroll tax bill.” Gros’ apparent scoop followed a story on Wednesday in a University of Memphis student newspaper that quoted Washington lobbyist Wendell Moore as saying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would “propose an online gaming amendment” to the Senate’s payroll tax bill. Cue lots of 2+2 posters using their ‘one time’ for the umpteenth time.
But later on Friday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Washington correspondent Steve Tetrault tweeted that Gov. Brian Sandoval’s spokesperson “shoots down Twitter report he is telling NV casinos of a Reid-Kyl deal on #webpoker. “That is patently false,” she sez.” So who to believe? The payroll tax bill needs to be passed by the end of February, but the Dems and Repubs are (shock!) a long way from consensus. If the bill doesn’t pass, Americans could see higher taxes deducted from their paychecks, but the Repubs are complaining that the Dems haven’t proposed any serious revenue generators to offset the bill’s expenditures. Online poker could theoretically fit that bill, if you could convince the GOP moralizers to head into a November election having just given the green light to the “crack cocaine” of gambling. (Honestly, in light of Breaking Bad‘s popularity, should that meme not be changed to the “meth” of gambling? Just a suggestion…)
Meanwhile, gambling companies continue to wheel and deal as if the legislation is a fait accompli. A month after musing about “realistic opportunities” in a legalized US online gambling market, Gibraltar-based mobile specialists Probability have applied for a Nevada online gambling license. CEO Charles Cohen said the company was picking Nevada to be the first state to open for business, whether intrastate or nationwide. All they need now is a local partner with a gaming license, but early stage talks with unidentified companies are reportedly underway. Probability’s official twitter feed chirped out the following nugget: “just left the lovely ladies at new Scotland yard with our fingerprints for nevada licence application. now just 100 pages of forms to go.” Cohen and Co. will be whistling a far less merry melody if Probability’s US competitors convince Vegas cops to match those fingerprints to any of the Strip’s unsolved crimes…
Also on Friday, Kentucky horse racing colossus Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced that it has acquired the assets of Atlanta-based Bluff Media. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but in addition to assuming control of Bluff’s numerous poker-related domains and an extensive player database, CDI intends “to further expand and build upon Bluff Media’s current content and business model, CDI management believes this acquisition potentially provides the company with new business avenues to pursue in the event there is a liberalization of state or federal laws with respect to Internet poker in the United States.” CDI already operates a thriving online horse wagering business, and US politicians have historically contorted themselves into knots while crafting gambling laws to give racing operators preferential treatment. Is it significant that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is from Kentucky?