Thursday June 5, 2014 : NEW ONLINE POKER DRAFT IS NOT MINE, SAYS HELLER
Nevada Senator says Caesar's is behind new federal bill circulating in Congress.
The legislative confusion created by news of yet another federal proposal to legalise online poker circulating in draft form in the US Congress has been heightened by reports that the politician initially thought to be behind the draft, Nevada Senator Dean Heller, has denied authorship.
Heller told the Las Vegas Review Journal this week that he was not involved in the draft, although he and fellow Nevada Senator Harry Reid were still collaborating on a possible bill.
However, he said, there was little sign that the draft currently circulating was gaining much traction.
Heller suggested that Caesars Entertainment was pushing the bill, claiming that he had been briefed on it by lobbyist Haley Barbour, who had told him the draft had been compiled by Caesars.
The draft seeks a general federal online gambling ban, but with a carve-out for online poker, in which Caesars is heavily invested, with provider and operational companies and websites in legalised intrastate US markets, and with foreign partnerships.
Heller said that from his briefing he gleaned that the draft broadly followed the intrastate legalization currently in place in Nevada, and suited the strategies of major land gambling companies that have consistently preferred a federal, rather than state-by-state, legalization of online poker only.
Expressing a personal view, Heller said he was in no haste to push the issue, and is instead encouraging more discussion on the subject.
“We will treat it like any other proposal,” Heller said of the draft in his Las Vegas Review Journal interview. “We’ll take a look at it, we’ll read it and determine whether or not it is something we can support. I’d like to get all these ideas on the table at one time and move in the appropriate direction.”
Approached by the Journal for comment, a spokesman for Sen. Reid said: “We had no idea where this draft came from and learned of it through the media.”
Caesars has yet to comment.
Heller revealed that he had discussed with Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz their Sheldon Adelson-inspired bills seeking a federal ban on all online gambling . The Nevada Senator said that, should the two bills make any progress, he may attempt to include amendments to exempt online poker.
“I told that to Chaffetz and I told that to Graham,” Heller said. “Let’s move this process forward. If your bill comes to the floor, I may consider amending it and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t have a problem with them moving forward. Both myself and Senator Reid want to get something done.”
However, Heller concluded his interview by saying that he is not hopeful that Congress will tackle a gaming bill in an election year.