MGM Head: “Positive Momentum in Congress Toward Passing Online Poker Bill”

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
online poker bill

In an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, MGM Resorts Chairman, Jim Murren, expressed his strong belief that the US Congress will get a bill passed to legalize online poker in the very near future.

"We think there is positive momentum in Congress toward passing a bill," MGM Resorts Chairman Jim Murren said. "It's time for the federal government to address this issue."

MGM is not alone.  The South Point Casino, owned by gaming icon Michael Gaughan, is the first Vegas casino operator to officially launch an online poker, albeit with “free play”.  Hosted on the Zen Gaming Network, South Point Poker is offering incentives such as free seats a week worth $10,000 to the World Series of Poker Main event in July 2012, free qualifies running daily, and top cash prizes

“The South Point Online Poker room entered into an advertising arrangement with this week and we are thrilled to have them on board as they understand the need to brand across the Internet ahead of the competition,” remarked Payton O’Brien, Senior Editor of the website. 

And the competition is starting to reveal itself in recent weeks:  MGM and Boyd Gaming announced their partnership with Party.bwin last week while Donald Trump and Stations Casinos Fertitta brothers (who also own the UFC) have announced grandiose plans to enter the multi-billion dollar industry.  Trump is joining forces with Lasry’s Avenue Capital Group while the Fertitta brothers purchased an online gambling platform, CyberArts.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. Chairman Gary Loveman, has teamed up with 888 Holdings, currently the 4th largest online poker firm in the world.  He has been the lone voice among casino operators when it comes to legalize Web poker in the States.

“We’ve had in the United States this bizarre situation where it has been legal for Americans over 21 to play poker online but illegal for American companies to provide that service,” Loveman said. “I can’t think of another example where there is something an American can buy but no American entity can provide. It’s a very unusual situation. and that’s what we’ve been through for some time.”

Murren noted that millions of Americans continue to play with online poker sites that are located outside the US.

"It (online poker) can't be wished away. We support the need for regulation and consumer protection for online poker."

In previous years, the main opposition to legalization came from politicians the likes of Spencer Bachus of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona.  The later has gone on record as saying he will support regulation of Internet poker.  Bachus has remained quiet on the subject in recent months as supporters of current legislation made it a point to steer the measure out of his committee.  The tribal casino operators appear to be the only obstacle standing in the way of legalization at this juncture in time.

And time itself is not necessarily on the side of those looking to push through the measure as Congress will soon be entering its holiday recess and draft legislation might have to start anew in an Election year.

- Chris Costigan, Publisher