The Fight: Latest on Reid Bill, NJ, CA and DC Move Forward on Intrastate Gambling

Today’s edition of The Fight has the latest on Harry Reid’s efforts for federal online poker legislation, and the efforts of New Jersey, California and the District of Columbia towards legalizing intrastate online gambling.

Reid’s poker bill drawing slim

The on-again, off-again efforts by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at attaching legislation to a bill to restore tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits were off-again after a vote to table pending amendments to the bill passing on December 9. Later that evening, Reid released a statement on why he was now supporting an online poker bill after years of being against any Internet gambling. Among the reasons why he now supports the bill: Protecting minors from gambling online, strengthening the UIGEA, allowing experienced gaming regulators to help guide the regulatory framework and respecting state and tribal rights. There is still a chance the legislation could still be attached to the tax-cut bill, a spending bill to keep the government running until September 2011 or other legislation that needs to be passed in the lame-duck session, according to Politico.com.

New Jersey edges closer to intrastate gambling

On December 9th, the New Jersey Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee passed by a 5-0 vote a bill allowing for intrastate online gambling for state residents. S490 allows Internet gambling exclusively for New Jersey residents, with the servers located at Atlantic City casinos. An earlier amendment to the legislation allowed for overseas players, but was removed after worries about running into difficulties with federal law and the World Trade Organization. The bill now moves to the Assembly for a vote December 13. If passed in the Assembly, the state Senate will vote on the measure later that day. A previous version of S490 passed by a vote of 29-5 in the Senate in November. The legislation would then go to the desk of Governor Chris Christie, although when the first sites would be to state residents is unknown.

California doubles up on poker bills

In California, two separate intrastate gambling bills were introduced this week for the upcoming 2011-12 legislative session, starting in January. On December 6, state Senator Louis Correa introduced SB 40, supported by the Morongo and San Manuel tribes. Earlier in the year, the Morongo tribe opposed intrastate poker legislation by state Senator Rod Wright that would have allowed overseas sites and Nevada casinos the opportunity to be licensed in California. Wright’s bill stalled in committee in the previous session, but on December 8 he offered SB 45 , which would allow three licenses to operate intrastate poker and gambling for 20 years.

District of Columbia’s takes a chance at online gambling

In a surprise move December 7, the District of Columbia Council passed by a vote of 11-2 a budget amendment to have the DC Lottery legalize online poker and fantasy sports games in the District as an attempt to close a $200 million budget deficit. Discussion of the amendment was minimal before it was passed, with no input on the legislation from the public. Word of the amendment was met with strong opposition in Congress, which has final approval over laws in the District. Representative Jason Cheffetz (R-UT), the ranking Republican in the House subcommittee that oversees the District commented: “It was slipped into a budget discussion in the middle of the night. That doesn’t strike me as a good way to do business.” Sound familiar?

Further updates on the status of Reid’s federal online poker bill when they happen at www.BluffMagazine.com.

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Kevin Mathers

Widely known by his twitter handle "Kevmath", many consider Kevin a go-to source for news and information in the poker community. Kevin finished on the bubble in the 2014 edition of the BLUFF Power 20.
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