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February 22, 2018

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Reid says House bill to legalize online gambling hurts online poker efforts


J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gestures as he speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 4, 2013, after a Democratic strategy session.

If the gaming market hadn’t already largely determined it, the Senate Majority Leader confirmed it Friday: The era of online poker in Congress is essentially over.

In an interview with the Sun on Friday, Sen. Harry Reid stopped short of officially declaring the effort to revive an online poker bill dead, but said he couldn’t see any type of legislative effort succeeding.

“I felt for several months now that I don’t see any movement on this,” Reid said. “I don’t see anything happening.”

Reid said that a bill filed in the House of Representatives yesterday by Rep. Peter King, D-N.Y., made the prospects of a poker bill even bleaker, because it “basically authorizes everything – 21, poker, everything,” Reid said.

While Reid added that he doubted King’s bill would pass, the introduction of a broad piece of gaming legislation both divides the sympathies of pro-gaming lawmakers and helps to stiffen the resolve of those opposed to gaming, whom online poker enthusiasts had hoped to persuade with the limited nature of their gaming legalization.

Poker and other forms of internet gaming were made illegal under the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but the Department of Justice’s 2011 reading of the 1961 Wire Act opened the door to individual states to develop online gaming within their own borders.

Earlier this year, poker lobbyists told the Sun that if legislation wasn’t in the process of moving by June or July, online poker on a federal level was pretty much sunk. On the state level, the Nevada Legislature legalized it earlier this year.

Reid indicated Friday that things with poker were, despite his best hopes, at a standstill.

“We’re still trying, but I’m not really confident we can get something done,” he said.

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