$8 Billion In Pork: But Will There Be a Beef With Online Poker Earmark?

Written by:
Jagajeet Chiba
Published on:
Spending Bill Pork

A draft bill from the Senate Majority Leader himself, Harry Reid, to legalize online poker in the United States might get lost among the $8 billion in earmarks set to be part of an omnibus spending bill.  That probably isn’t a bad thing. 

All totaled, there were some 6,600 pet projects lawmakers from both parties attached to the enormous spending bill unveiled by Senate Democrats on Tuesday. 

When it comes to pet projects, the online poker pork is seen by many in the online poker community as leading the sheep to slaughter.  It requires current establishments the likes of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to cease operating for a period of 15 months before being considered for a license to operate freely in the US (emphasis on the word “considered”). 

Likewise, a handful of powerful Republicans like Spencer Bachus of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona have protested Reid’s draft bill. 

“At this point, the only vehicle (for the Internet poker bill) I see is the omnibus,” Republican Senator John Ensign from Nevada suggested on Monday.

The Las Vegas Sun on Tuesday claimed that Reid was working behind the scenes with Ensign to get his online poker legislation passed. 

Reid had also been trying to gain the support of the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, by expanding the legislation beyond poker to benefit McConnell’s home state of Kentucky and its lucrative horse racing industry. 

At press time, it seemed highly unlikely that any other proposed legislation would accommodate Reid’s efforts other than the omnibus spending bill.  That bill is packed with pork, much of which is far less appetizing than the online poker measure, which could potentially bring in billions of dollars to US government coffers. 

- Jagajeet Chiba, Gambling911.com

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