Monday July 2, 2012 : FEDERAL LEGALISATION OF ONLINE POKER REMAINS BOGGED DOWN BY POLITICS
Barton admits that July may be a long shot
The "town hall" style meeting organised in Las Vegas this weekend by the Poker Players Alliance to discuss the legalization of online poker had little in the way of encouraging news for poker fans.
Texas House Representative Joe Barton. who's legalization proposal has languished in Congress for months, along with a more general bill by California Representative John Campbell explained that time is running out for a House approval, and that if the bill cannot be driven through this (July) month the hiatus would continue until after the presidential election later this year, when Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl may be able to do something in the Senate.
The snag is that House politics are unlikely to permit the passage of the bill this month, with House Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton cautious in the face of political opposition and challenges.
In fact, it appears from Barton's briefing that this sensitive period in politics is bedevilling any decisions that might evoke criticism, encouraging a "play it safe" approach.
John Pappas of the PPA discussed ways in which that organisation could assist in getting legalization bills through, opining that the ‘lame duck" session of Congress following the presidential elections at the end of the year might present an opportunity…but there appeared to be no real certainty in the prospect.
The PPA seems to be betting on the unlikely coalition of Senators Reid and Kyl providing a federal solution for online poker, with Pappas asserting that the groundwork on an online poker legalization bill is done; it is now a question of political timing.
The discussion included "what if" issues such as a Republican victory in the presidential elections, where more conservative politicians may feel sufficiently confident to try and beef up the Wire Act, an outdated law that was largely rendered powerless in all but the sports betting sense last December when the Justice Department declared that it did not embrace online casino and poker gambling.
Pappas said that any attempt to tinker with the Wire Act that did not include an exemption for online poker would face considerable political and lobby group resistance.
Observers at the meeting confessed to leaving it with the perception that the more dynamic legalization attempts at state levels were more likely to produce results in the foreseeable future than a Congress so absorbed with political manouevreing.
To some extent, a comment made by Pappas himself during the meeting suggests that even the PPA has doubts about a federal solution emerging any time soon. Pappas observed that it was perhaps time that the PPA started working on a strategy that pivoted on a state-by-state legalization process.
He's probably right.