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Updates on Harry Reid’s Effort to Legalize Online Poker

Harry Reid SenatorOn Monday this week, we brought you a story about Senator Harry Reid’s (D-Nevada) last minute effort to pass a bill regulating online poker before the end of the current legislative session. On Tuesday, we published a brief update summarizing the proposal.

You can read both of those articles to get more details about the bill, but the gist of it is that U.S. brick & mortar casino operations would have first crack at the market and sites like PokerStars and FTP would have to voluntarily stop serving U.S. patrons for a period of a few years before they would earn an official license to operate.

Although there are certainly many downsides to the bill for online poker fans, they are generally perceived by those in the industry to be outweighed by the long-term benefits.

So it was disappointing when, on Wednesday afternoon, the Las Vegas Sun published an article claiming that Reid had decided to abandon the effort. “We’re not able to,” was the quote the Sun got from Reid during a crowded press conference–a comment which they thought was related to the online poker issue, but was actually in response to a different question from a different reporter.

Later the in evening, the Wall Street Journal published a short piece that directly contradicted the Sun article. The WSJ claimed to have corresponded with spokesman Tom Brede, who wrote that Tom Brede was “still working on” passing the bill. The executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas, also threw his optimistic opinion into the ring, stating, “Until Congress adjourns, I’m not saying it’s dead.”

Shortly after the WSJ story appeared, the Sun updated their earlier piece, admitting an error on their part and agreeing that the issue is still on the table. They also described the gaming lobby as being “in a frenzy” after the initial report appeared. Fortunately, everyone is back on the same page and it looks like Senator Reid still plans to pursue online poker legalization and regulation.

Whatever the fate of the bill, things will come to a conclusion soon; by the new year, outspoken opponents of the bill Spencer Bachus, Dave Camp, and Lamar Smith will have risen to the rank of chairmen in key committees of the U.S. House of Representatives, and will be able to easily block the bill from passing in the house–a necessary step before any bill becomes law.

The final chapter of this story is yet to come, so keep an eye on the Rakeback.com Poker News page for the latest updates.

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