Will Harry Reid Support Online Poker Legislation? Reps Confident

Written by:
C Costigan
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The three Nevadans in the House of Representatives are rallying to support the legalization of Internet gaming.

But without the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has remained silent on the issue, their efforts may be futile.

"He's the linchpin," Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said. "He will be the decider when it comes to Internet gaming."

A legalization bill, introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and co-sponsored by Berkley, passed the House Financial Services Committee in a 41-22 vote last week.

Internet gaming has been illegal since 2006, when Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Frank's bill would legalize and regulate online gaming, generating $42 billion in tax revenue over 10 years, according to a 2009 congressional analysis.

How Nevada's casino industry would fit into the world of legal Internet gaming is unclear. For years, Las Vegas casinos opposed legalization, fearing it would decrease gamblers' desire to visit the Silver State.

Provisions in Frank's bill, however, may clear a path for Nevada companies to profit from digital gaming because they did not violate the 2006 ban.

Companies like FullTilt.com and PartyPoker.com, which are based overseas, have been accepting bets from U.S. citizens illegally and would not receive a license under the bill. Nevada casinos like Harrah's Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker and backed the bill, could then step in and lead the Internet gambling market.

Although Reid voted for the ban in 2006, Berkley said he may vote for legalization.

"I think his position has softened dramatically, but he's going to need to be convinced," she said. "I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I know he's been moving to a positive position."

Berkley and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., are both cosponsor's of the Frank bill.

"This legislation will not detract from our first-rate casinos and an industry that is vital to the livelihood of so many Nevadans, but will benefit Nevada's casinos, many of which are interested in building an online presence in the United States," Berkley spokesman Andrew Stoddard said in a statement.

Read More Here From The Reno Gazette

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