It now appears that despite a flurry of interest earlier this month, Congress isn’t going to take a good look at legalizing and regulating online poker this year.
Staffers for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had been circulating a bill, backed by many bricks-and-mortar casinos in Reid’s home state of Nevada, that would have created a federal regulatory body to oversee online poker nationwide and would have permitted the granting of licenses to gambling operators to run online poker games.
However, ESPN has reported that the bill is dead. It will not be voted on in the current lame-duck session. Reid has been quoted as saying that there’s too much work remaining to be done on the bill in too tight a time frame.
This is an unfortunate development and a loss for everyone concerned. States have lost access to a possible new source of new revenue in difficult economic time, poker players have lost the opportunity to play in a setting of unquestioned legality and integrity, and the $25 billion industry has missed an opportunity for further growth.
In the next, Republican-controlled, House of Representatives, opponents of online gambling will hold major committee chairmanships — Spencer Bachus in Financial Services,, Dave Camp in Ways and Means, and Lamar Smith in Judiciary. So the chances of a legalization bill emerging are slim to none. As ESPN points out, those interested in legalizing online gambling will now turn their attention to the state legislatures, especially in New Jersey and California.