Since Black Friday we have been grasping for any positive news we can find about online poker being legalized. Millions of poker players want to get back to the virtual tables and that dream may come true according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who says Internet poker legislation "will get done."
This is the first time the Nevada Senator has spoken so positively about the future of online poker; telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he believes legalized online poker is in America’s future and that ‘Internet poker legislation will be good for Nevada."
This is music to the ears of online poker players who are anxiously waiting to get back in the game and hope Reid's prediction happens sooner rather than later. In the latest round of efforts to legalize online poker, success will largely depend on the debt super committee. Finding at least $1.5 trillion in debt savings over the next 10 years is the responsibility of the joint select committee on deficit reduction. Licensing and regulating Internet poker could be the fastest and easiest way for the committee to find those billions of dollars that are desperately needed.
Speaking on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA)"I think there's a very good chance we're going to get in the discussion," said executive director John Pappas. "Whether it makes it into the final recommendation is the question."
When the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the debt-ceiling agreement), was signed into law by President Obama on August 2nd, the law created the bipartisan super committee. This committee was dubbed ‘super’ because it has the unprecedented authority to craft a bill that cannot be amended or filibustered. Any bill written by the committee will get a majority vote in the Senate and House and if passed, will land on President Obama’s desk for final approval.
The hope for poker players is that the committee will all agree to put online poker in the bill, and if they do - it is there to stay. If the parties disagree however, it would be deadlocked since the committee is made up of six Republicans and six Democrats. If the members stay true to their party’s policies, one member would have to break party lines for poker to be on the table.
Of the 12 members: Democratic Senators Patty Murray (Wash.), Max Baucus (Mont.) and John F. Kerry (Mass.), Republican Senators Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Patrick J. Toomey (Penn.), Democratic representatives James Clyburn (S.C.), Xavier Becerra (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Republican representatives Dave Camp (Mich.), Jeb Hensarling (Tex.) and Fred Upton (Mich.) according to the PPA's congressional ratings, only Upton, Clyburn, Becerra and Van Hollen all have "B" grades. Kyl and Camp have grades of "F," with the rest of the line-up being unrated.
"The people holding the cards I think will be Kyl and Reid," Pappas said. "Even though Reid is not on the commission, he appointed people who are. If Kyl and Reid can compromise on a deal to include online poker, I think it can happen. It's handing Congress revenue without raising taxes, which is exactly what they're looking for."
Jon Kyl became one of the most despised politicians in the country among poker players when he blocked Reid's attempt to attach an online poker proposal to must-pass legislation during last year's lame-duck session. In an apparent about face however, he wrote on his official website earlier this year that he would ‘consider efforts to legalize online poker if other aspects of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act are strengthened.’ Then back peddling, Kyl and Reid joined forces last month to send an unfavorable online poker letter to Attorney General Eric Holder which stated despite their differences, the two Senators were working together on the Internet poker issue.
That letter led the poker playing public to hope that the Senators may reach a compromise that would see Internet poker being licensed and regulated. There is no official word on when the super committee will kick-off but the Budget Control Act requires that the committee vote on a proposal by November 23, 2011. Reid’s statement saying he thinks that legalizing Internet poker ‘will get done,’ has displaced online poker players hoping he means he and Kyl have reached an agreement and the super debt committee will be the ones to get it done – and fast
The PPA is urging poker players to go all out and make their voices heard in support of online poker. Pappas says players should keep sending e-mails to members of the committee and posting on their Facebook pages in support of licensing and regulating Internet poker.
"If we're able to get a lot of PPA members tuned up to contact members of the committee and say to include online poker, I think when it comes up in their discussions that it will be much more palatable to them than if they go into this without any understanding that there are a bunch of people out there who care about this," Pappas said. "We don't want to put all our eggs in one basket but, if we're looking at something between now and the end of the year, this is our best shot."