Sunday, August 11, 2013

Harry Reid, Sheldon Adelson in Rumored Discussions over New Federal Bill

Would you believe Sheldon Adelson abandoning his claims that online poker is immoral, and joining forces with US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in attempting to generate support for yet another federal online bill?  That's the weekend's latest legislative rumor, courtesy of a Tweet first published by PokerNews' Brett Collson, that Reid and Adelson and others, including NJ Gov. Chris Christie, are lining up support for a poker-only bill that could be pushed through Congress by year's end.

This one might be a case of politics making strange bedfellows, or it could be pure wackiness.  Collson's three Tweets on the topic aren't the only mention of some backroom discussions on the possible deal being brewed, as a very brief post at LasVegasAdvisor, a venerable Nevada sportsbetting-and-gambling-info -- with ties to Russ Hamilton, by the way -- also brings up the rumors, complete with the New Jersey tie-in.

According to LVA, a deal between New Jersey and Nevada involving joint regulatory oversight (and possible sharing of players?) is vital to any possible federal plan, and getting those two states (and possibly Delaware) on board is probably the only hope federal politicians have at this point of making something work at the federal level, given that the states-rights arguments re: online gambling have long jumped out of the bag.

Also a question is how sincere Adelson is in his support of any possible bill, given his scornful comments about both online gambling and poker.  Adelson has scoffed at the notion that poker is a game of skill, though maybe the threatened boycotts of Adelson's popular Venetian property have had at least a small effect.  Those boycotts and threat thereof did no real damage to the Venetian's bottom line, but bad publicity in a fluid political environment is a far more dangerous beast.

Adelson's nothing but a self-serving hyena, and the original Reid-Kyl bill was actually a measure that severely limited other forms of online gambling while creating a narrow carveout for online poker, even with preemptive opt-outs for many possible participants and planned civil penalties for violating players.

Truth is, Reid-Kyl was such a lousy bill that there is indeed a small chance that Adelson could be convinced to support a modified version of it, as long at it bans all the other sorts of online gambling that Adelson wants stopped, since visiting his Venetian is such a morally superior alternative.  (Here's a juicy link to Adelson's and LVSands' site, in case you've forgotten.)

Still, just rumors for now.  This is one of those things that poker players might not want, once it's been jammed down their collective throats.  Until the rumors are realized and the text of any proposed bill can be examined, it's best to just wait and see.

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