PPA: Christmas Miracle Needed for Harry Reid Online Poker Bill



On Friday, Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas appeared on Bloomberg Television to discuss the bill legalizing and regulating online poker introduced by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). On the likelihood of a bill passing before the current Congressional session expires, Pappas candidly told Bloomberg viewers, “It would really have to take a Christmas miracle at this point.” Watch now.

The four-minute segment, dubbed “The High Stakes of Internet Poker,” hit television airwaves at 11:45am ET on Friday. Pappas admitted that the window for legalized internet poker was quickly closing: “Unfortunately, I think Congress is missing an opportunity to get this done and get it done sooner than later. I think next year is really our next best venue. The vehicles this year just didn’t add up to get a bill done and there was really no way to get the bill as a standalone measure any time in the last week or so. I just don’t think there’s any way it’s going to happen now.”

Reid may have been close to adding the online poker language to the tax relief act, which was signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday. Despite an early report from The Hill claiming that the “lame duck” Congressional session would expire on Friday, Congress was still going strong at the time of writing tackling the topic of gays in the military.

In 2011, the House of Representatives will switch to Republican control, causing pro-internet gambling members of Congress like Barney Frank (D-MA) to lose their positions of power. Frank is the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, but Pappas expressed optimism that online poker won’t be lost in the fray: “I don’t know how any member of Congress – Republican or Democrat – can be happy with the status quo. They passed a bill in 2006 that tried to prohibit internet gambling, but it’s grown. Millions of Americans continue to play online poker and they’re doing it without any of the protections the Federal Government could provide.”

On Friday, an article by the Associated Press revealed that unemployment rates in 21 states rose month-over-month, the largest number in four months. Accordingly, Pappas told Bloomberg viewers that legalizing online poker isn’t just about generating revenue for the Federal and State Governments, it’s also about creating jobs: “The bills that have been introduced would mandate that these companies establish a presence here in the U.S. These are high-tech, high-paying jobs that internet gaming companies generate. It’s not cocktail waitresses at a casino. These are really high-tech jobs, from software security to software development as well as customer service.”

Any bill not acted upon by the end of the Congressional session is deemed dead. Besides Reid’s bill, Frank’s HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, will also fall by the wayside when the new Congress is seated in January. HR 2267 would have created a licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry sans sports betting. The Financial Services Committee approved the measure by a 2:1 margin in July, but it has not been discussed since.

On Thursday, Pappas told Poker News Daily that Reid’s bill was effectively dead. Stay tuned to PND for the latest legislative headlines.

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