Lottery Chiefs against the Online Poker Bill

November 26, 2012

Lottery chiefs from seven different states have planned to go on a trip to Washington in the first week of December to debate on the internet poker bill proposed by Harry Reid and Jon Kyl. The bill draft aims to legalize online poker in the US while restricting other forms of gambling like lottery. According to David Gale, Executive Director at the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, officials from Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Washington State, Georgia, and Missouri have registered for this lobbying fly-in.

How will the poker bill affect lottery?

The main target for all these lottery officials is the internet poker bill proposed by Harry Reid (D-Nev.), R-Ariz, and Jon Kyl. The bill will legalize and create a framework to regulate and license poker games online. However, the main drawback of this bill is that it will be restricting other types of gambling when most states are trying to extend their lottery online. These states want to make their lottery resemble slot machines or keno.

What do the lottery chiefs want?

David Gale said that the main reason for planning this trip is to get the message about online gambling straight. The lottery officials want to make it clear to the drafters of the bill that gaming is a right that each and every individual state enjoys. Gale further added that it is up to each state to make gambling legal. The states should also be given the right to decide the form in which gambling will be provided to its players.

Kristen Oerthman, Reid’s spokesperson said that the internet poker bill has attracted the wrath of certain state officials, including state legislators and governors. He made it very clear that the bill is still in its draft stage and is not finalized yet. He further said that Reid’s team will work with the stakeholders and the states to find a solution for their concerns. Reid, who is the majority leader of the Senate, is believed to be looking out for the right opportunity to get this internet poker bill passed. Supporters for this bill feel that the regulation at federal stage will provide safety to players. The bill will also safeguard under-aged players and problem gamblers.

The Critics’ take on the bill

When it comes to critics, they feel that the internet poker bill will deprive the states the opportunity to tap the required revenue from the internet gaming market. Among the losers and winners, it is definite that Nevada casinos will benefit a lot from the internet poker bill. However, people looking out for business from the state lotteries will be hurt a great deal by this bill.

Gale said that the number of lottery chiefs going on the trip might differ based on whether the winner of the Powerball $550 million jackpot is announced or not. The jackpot is being offered in Washington, DC and 42 other states. The draw is supposed to happen on December 1. Gale said that the lottery officers will make their presence in Washington even if this jackpot rolls over. Gale further added that the officials want to make it very clear that states enjoy the right to determine anything regarding the bill, and not Kyl or Reid.

On the other hand, the internet poker bill is not showing any sign of progress in the present lame-duck sitting of the Congress. With the forthcoming fiscal cliff, Dean Heller, the Republican Nevada Senator feels that internet poker is not very important for most of the Americans. He said that it is becoming very difficult to get the issue to the forefront.

Harry Reid’s take on the bill

However, Harry Reid seemed irritated that people are asking him about the bill during the time when US is experiencing economic recession. When asked about the bill, he told the reporters to question the Republicans. He also said that the bill cannot be passed as they have not got the required Republican votes.

The bill, which will make most forms of gambling illegal, will be biased toward online poker. The bill draft was leaked last month to the media. Since then, there has been lot of controversy surrounding it. Only time will tell us if the internet bill will be actually passed or not.