Last year the Department of Justice overturned an old regulation that had prohibited online gambling. The rule change opened the door for states to start offering online gaming and increase revenues. The online poker industry is looking for federal regulation, because leaving the regulation up to each state would be a bit of a mess, as the states wouldn’t allow gambling across state lines, etc. So, along comes Harry Reid who wants to help out his casino cronies in Nevada.
So why worry so much about online poker? Well, the inclusion of Harry Reid should give Americans a clue as to whose interests are really at play in the passage of this bill. If Harry Reid’s ideas become law, and one set of regulations governs, with only online poker being allowed, large corporations will be able to quickly snap up the lion’s share of the gaming, with most of those corporations being casinos headquartered in Harry Reid’s home state of Nevada. Reid admitted as much when he castigated Rep. Dean Heller in September for allegedly not doing enough to recruit GOP support for the measure:
On Tuesday, Reid scolded Heller. “In May, you agreed to help me cement Republican support for the bill in the Senate,” he wrote Heller. “Since then, you have been unable to garner the necessary Republican votes to pass this bill. As a result, we are at a standstill. And every day we stand still, Nevada’s workers, its economy and its gaming industry suffers.”
“Reid said the legalization and regulation of online poker “may be the most important issue facing Nevada since Yucca Mountain. This bill means jobs for Nevada.”
Reid’s point is clear – his bill is about Nevada jobs, Nevada money and feathering the bed of Nevada’s biggest industry. Under his bill, the only entities that would be eligible for a federal poker license for at least the first two years would be land-based casinos, race tracks and large manufacturers for gaming machines.