Reid sounds pessimistic note on poker bill

12 December 2012
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sounded a pessimistic note Tuesday on chances to pass an online poker bill in the handful of days remaining in Congress this year.
The Nevada Democrat said that even with support, there might not be a path available for the legislation that would legalize Internet poker and initiate federal licensing for companies that want to run the games.
His comments came as key Senate Republicans, including Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said they believed they have lined up enough votes to help advance the bill.
"Senator Heller believes there are sufficient Republican votes, and Senator Kyl agrees," Heller spokeswoman Chandler Smith said.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has been co-sponsor with Reid of a draft bill that has been circulated around Capitol Hill and among casinos and other interest groups, but not formally introduced.
In a Congressional Quarterly interview, Kyl said there are sufficient Republican votes to help move the poker bill. But he warned against trying to add it onto the "fiscal cliff" bill or other bills that may end up in a partisan divide.
"If it ever comes up in the Senate, and it's offered in the appropriate way - that is to say not part of some bill that nobody is going to vote for - then there's no question about Republican votes in my view," Kyl said.
Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said Kyl and Reid met on Monday. She said Reid was told that Kyl was continuing to seek Republican votes for the bill but was not told how many might be in hand or under what conditions.
Reid has complained regularly about lack of Republican votes for the poker bill. On Tuesday, he was asked about new reports of GOP support for the draft bill that has languished for most of the year.
Asked about the bill's prospects at this point, Reid threw up his hands and questioned whether there was a suitable bill for it to be attached to as an amendment.
"Everyone, listen to this," he said. "We suddenly have Republican votes on Internet poker, two weeks before Christmas. Without being vulgar, what the hell would I put it on?"
Reid stopped short of declaring the bill dead for the year, and the frenetic final days of a congressional session sometimes are marked by deal-cutting that results in some bills being passed and some bills being killed.
The online poker bill is seen as a top priority of Nevada casinos that have been preparing to enter the online gaming market. The Nevada Gaming Commission has granted interactive gaming licenses to 16 companies, and the state is expected to play a big role in carrying out any federal online poker regime.
At the same time it legalizes Web poker, the bill also would make most all other forms of online gambling illegal.

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