Jon Kyl Holds the Cards When it Comes to Legalizing Internet Poker

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jon Kyl

A 12 member super committee in Washington, D.C. is tasked with determining how to save $1.5 trillion in government expenses over the next 10 years.  

There is speculation that a measure to legalize Internet poker could ultimately be crafted into the bill as a means to generating revenue for the federal government. 

Ironically, one of the members of this so-called super committee is none other than Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl, who just happened to co-draft (and push through) the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).   Kyl has made it a point to stand in the way of nearly every piece of Internet gambling legislation that has come up in Washington since UIGEA was passed in late 2006. 

The good news, Kyl’s stance seems to have softened a bit.  On his own website, the outgoing Senator suggests he can live with legal regulated online poker.  There are also indications that Kyl has forged an unholy relationship with none other than Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Mr. Reid proclaimed this week that a bill to legalize online poker “will pass this year”. 


Kyl blocked Reid's attempt to attach an online poker proposal to must-pass legislation during last year's lame-duck session. 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 Kyl and Reid combined on a letter last month to Attorney General Eric Holder that wasn't at all favorable to online poker but indicated that the two Senators were working together on the issue, sparking speculation that they were approaching a compromise that would allow for licensing and regulating the activity.

One has to wonder about the timing of Reid's statement that Internet poker legislation will get done coming as the super committee approaches. The optimistic among the poker community might look at that as a sign that Reid and Kyl have reached an agreement.

Should online poker be one of the items added to the finished product, the super committee bill cannot be amended or filibustered. 

- Chris Costigan, Publisher

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