Keeping Score: Top Republican Orrin Hatch Favors Reid Bill to Legalize Online Poker

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Orin Hatch

While a number of Republicans have objected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s attempt to ram through a draft bill to legalize online poker in the United States during this lame duck session, one of the top Republican Senators has offered his support for the proposed legislation. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he is in favor of legislation that would, not only regulate the activity, but also bring much needed revenue to the states.  Ironically, Hatch represents one of only two states in the Union, the other being Hawaii, that does not even offer a state lottery, let alone any legalized gambling.  

“They’re trying,” Hatch told in regard to the draft bill.  Hatch is slated to become ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over parts of the gambling measure.

One of the most vocal Republican Senators against legalized online gambling has been Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.  He was a co-author of current Web gambling prohibition, the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

“Zero chance — no chance whatsoever that would be part of the tax deal,” Kyl told Politico on Tuesday.  “I don’t think it would be the right thing to do.”

The Internet gambling issue is as fluid as attempts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (allowing gays to opening serve in the military) and the ongoing debate regarding an extension of tax breaks.  For a brief time Wednesday night, Reid’s draft bill was said to be off the table.  An aide later clarified this was not the case

CNN’s Kevin Bohn, Dana Bash and Jessica Yellin were all working to gather more information regarding Reid’s efforts as of Wednesday evening.

Speaking to Kyl later in the day, he advised CNN that "Senator Reid has agreed with me that it (attaching the draft bill for legalized online poker) will not happen."

Reid's office, however, refused CNN's request to discuss his push for the legalization.  Kyl’s comments came before an aid confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the Senate Majority Leader is still working on the process. 

Reid has received strong backing from the Las Vegas casinos on this matter, many of which have contributed heavily to his successful election campaign.

Between 2005-2010 Reid's campaign and his leadership political action committee received $224,450 from MGM Resorts and $113,450 from Harrah's Entertainment, CNN noted.

The proposal is also said to include provisions that would make it easier to bet on horses, something that could entice Republican Mitch McConnell from the horse racing state of Kentucky.   Kentucky -- Mitch McConnell, a state we should note is currently attempting to seize over 100 online gambling-related domain names.

- Christopher Costigan, Publisher

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