Online Poker Bill Hinges on Rider to Fiscal Cliff

Online Poker Bill Hinges on Rider to Fiscal CliffIndustry observers believe that if a federal online poker bill is passed during the lame duck session, its best chances are as a rider to the fiscal cliff bill.

With the elections almost a week behind us, the entire poker community is anxiously waiting to see if the Reid-Kyl poker bill will be introduced and somehow passed through the lame duck session of Congress. The chances of Senators Harry Reid and the retiring Jon Kyl’s proposal gaining support as a stand-alone bill are virtually non-existent. The best shot at enacting the Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012 is as an attachment to some other must-pass legislation. Many view that legislation to be the fiscal cliff bill.

The fiscal cliff refers to spending cuts and scheduled tax increases that are set to become effective in January. It is the top issue that the Obama administration and lawmakers will be considering during the Congressional session that will expire at year’s end. Analysts are of the mind that the U.S. economy is on the right track and that failure to act prior to the new year may bring about another recession in 2013.

To that end, President Obama has indicated his willingness to sign the fiscal cliff bill, as he recently told supporters, I’ve got the pen. I’m ready to sign the bill right away. I’m ready to do it. Of course, much more negotiation and compromise will be required among lawmakers in Congress before Obama gets to use his pen.

While online poker is not a priority in Washington, many are hoping that Reid and Sen. Dean Heller can muster enough support to get the Internet poker measure tacked onto the fiscal cliff bill much in the same way that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) rode along on the SAFE Port Act signed into law by President Bush in 2006.

However, there is considerable opposition to the Reid-Kyl bill as its currently written. Several individual states such as New Jersey and Delaware are against the bill, citing the proposal’s language that is seemingly slanted in Nevada’s favor. Many Indian tribes are also not too pleased with the provision that allows tribes to participate only if the state in which they reside opts in. And most recently, the National Governors Association and various lottery associations have spoken out against the bill.

Nevada Senators Reid and Heller do have their work cut out for them in attempting to legalize online poker in the remaining 1 and 1/2 months of 2012. Opinions are mixed on whether or not they can be successful, with some industry insiders hinting that the prospects are not very promising at all. However, the success will depend upon the bill riding on the coattails of another bill such as the fiscal cliff.