Tax Relief Bill could include Online Poker Legislation

Written by Sadonna | Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Members of congress are currently in a Congressional session and the online poker industry could be greatly affected by a recent development. Harry Reid the U.S. Senate Majority Leader and democratic Nevada senator is attempting to add a bill to the extending tax cuts measure. This bill would legalize online poker.

Online news source Poker News Daily reported that online news site Politico has published a story on the subject and they have confirmed Reid’s plans with Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Hatch told Politico that Reid would like to do just that. Despite Reid’s wants and desires to add the bill to the measure there are still those in government who are against it.

Politico also spoke with Jon Kyl the senator of Arizona and one of the creators of the original Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Kyl stated in the article: “there is zero chance—no chance whatsoever that would be part of the tax deal. I don’t think it would be the right thing to do.”

Many are saying that Reid is just trying to please Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International which are two of his major financial supporters. If the bill was passed then these gambling giants would be able to start their own online gambling sites and have millions of customers at their fingertips.

The National Indian Gaming Association is also against Reid’s legislation and they were also quoted in the Politico article by stating: “(the bill) is drafted to create an initial regulatory monopoly for Nevada and New Jersey for the first several years, which gives Las Vegas operators time to capture the market.” There are several versions of drafts of the bill and they all show that the US market would be open only to existing land based casino companies for the first two years and then others would be able to offer their services.

Politico’s website also listed a draft of the new proposal which mandates the following: “no qualified body may issue a license under this title before the date that is fifteen months after the date of the enactment of this Act.” It is unclear as to what the blackout period will do to the online poker industry in the US but players are not happy about this mandate. According to Poker News Daily, forum posters at Pocket Fives and TwoPlusTwo have been very upset about the fifteen month restriction.

Those who choose to operate without a license could face a five year prison term and a $1 million dollar per day penalty. According to the draft states are going to be allowed to opt in or out of allowing online poker.

The session is supposed to continue until next Friday so it will be some time still before we see if anything develops from Reid’s efforts.

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