BUSINESS

Barney Frank pessimistic re federal online poker legislation in 2012

TAGs: Jon Kyl

barney-frank-pessimistic-online-pokerFoxwoods Resort Casino took in $52.7m of slots revenue in March, a 4.5% drop from the same month in 2011. Foxwoods CEO Scott Butera said the Connecticut casino “experienced some softness in gaming and continue to focus our business initiatives on delivering the best patron experience with a wide variety of offerings.” In a subsequent discussion with the Hartford Courant, Butera said that with new casinos either already in operation or under construction across the US northeast, “supply growth is outpacing demand. As a result, we will need to adjust our businesses accordingly.” One of those adjustments includes adding an online gambling option, although Butera doesn’t expect that to be a reality for the near future.

Also not expecting quick action on the online poker front is Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). In an interview with PokerNews’ Matthew Kredell, Frank said he doubted poker legislation would pass at the federal level during the current legislative session. “I’d like to do it but I’m not optimistic. It’s still possible. [Sen. Harry] Reid wants to do it. A lot of people here want to do it. It might get done in the lame duck [session between the November election and the New Year]. It could get done as part of an overall package. But I think other things will replace it.”

Frank painted a dire picture of the competing forces at work on Capitol Hill. The Department of Justice’s pre-Christmas flip-flop on the Wire Act had alerted federal lawmakers to the potential “threat of different states doing different things. The chaos inherent in that is a good argument for legislation.” But obstacles to legislation remain in the form of Indian tribes and traditionally anti-gambling Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). While Kyl was said to have undergone a ‘road to Damascus’ conversion on the gambling issue, Frank says Kyl’s position is more nuanced. Unlike most online poker backers, Kyl remains opposed to adding a revenue component to any online poker bill, lest it be interpreted as the government encouraging more people to gamble.

According to Frank, who like Kyl, is not seeking re-election this fall: “We might have to wait until Kyl is out of office for this to get done.” But Frank’s been around Washington long enough to never say never. Frank feels that the best hope for online poker lies in the Senate. If legislation passes there, Frank’s convinced the House will go along. But that’s a big ‘if’, considering Frank’s view of the playing field. “The Senate’s got a lot of problems these days.”

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