According to one of the most respected gaming reporters in the business, federal legislation that would regulate and legalize the online poker industry in the United States is more than likely shut down until 2013 at the earliest.
On his Twitter account Friday afternoon, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Howard Stutz chirped to his readers, “One Wall Street analyst opinion: Internet poker legalization not being attached to the payroll tax bill means the issue is dead for 2012.” Stutz was discussing the recent legislation in Congress regarding the Payroll Tax Extension bill, which many had rumored could potentially feature online poker regulations as a “rider” in much the same manner as the original Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006. However, expectations of that rider were tamped down earlier in the week.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has been an advocate of online poker legislation, put the issue to rest earlier in the week while negotiations were ongoing for the payroll tax extension. Reasons given by the spokesman included current opposition to online poker by Indian tribes and state lotteries and that putting the online poker legislation on as a rider “didn’t figure” into the pending passage of the payroll legislation.
Stutz elaborated on his Friday Tweet in the Review-Journal late Friday in an interview with Chad Beynon, a gaming analyst with Macquarie Securities. Without the passage of federal legislation, Beynon believes, the onus now falls on individual states to enact legislation, something that the state of Nevada has already started to move forward with.
“We think the standards were written in a way that will allow for small adjustments as the process moves forward,” Beynon is quoted by Stutz as saying following Nevada’s moves to set minimum control standards for their intrastate online gaming operation. “At this point, no firm date has been set, but thirteen companies have now submitted for an operating license.” Beynon also looks at New Jersey, Iowa and California as other areas that may have online gaming legislation over the remainder of 2012.
With the decision not to tack online poker legislation on to the payroll extension bill (the bill is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama at any time), online poker advocates are looking to find another potential, however unlikely, way to push the legislation forward. Segments of the Obama Administration’s jobs package has been talked about as a potential vehicle as well as important cyber security legislation that was proposed earlier this week in the Senate. As a final option, the session following the November elections – the infamous “lame duck” period – could be a spot where the online poker legislation gets a push, much like Sen. Reid attempted in 2010.
The forum at Two Plus Two has been active regarding this news, albeit with some commenters still holding out hope that federal online poker legislation is still alive sometime over the coming year. Poster ‘NutRush’ stated, “I had an inkling of hope earlier this year (for passage in 2012), but quickly realized federal legislation isn’t happening anytime soon. Just hoping the states get moving sooner rather than later.”
Another poster, ‘ShizzMoney,’ opined, “Poker bill federally won’t even have a chance until 2014, in my opinion. I am so skeptical of my government and the religious nutjobs in it (that it) will take until 2016 to get anything done, maybe even later.” ‘ShizzMoney’ does see a silver lining, however, ending by writing, “State legislation, on the other hand, could be in the works very soon.”
Although this latest attempt to pass online poker legislation has seemingly come and gone, there are still several advocates pushing for federal legislation. The Poker Players Alliance has a daily Action Plan on the 2+2 forum, where individuals can push their elected officials regarding the issue, while FairPlay USA, a lobbying organization backed by several Nevada casinos, also is attempting to exert its influence.