Sunday, July 22, 2012 : REPUBLICAN SENATOR CONFIRMS HE IS HELPING PROD SUPPORT FOR ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION
Senator Heller trying to marshal Republican support for Kyl-Reid initiative
Last week's media reports of a renewed online poker legalization push by Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl was reinforced by the Las Vegas Review Journal Thursday.
The usually well-informed publication obtained confirmation from Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller that he was involved in the project and was trying to muster Republican support for the initiative.
Heller commented that he was trying to persuade Republicans to support the idea of federal legalization and regulation, allowing the US gambling industry to access billions of dollars already being wagered online.
"I've talked to leadership and a couple of colleagues," Heller told the LVRJ, naming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and leadership deputies Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.
Nevada Democrat Sen. Reid reportedly spoke to reporters Thursday and again confirmed that he and Sen. Kyl were collaborating on an internet poker legalization initiative, but commented: "…we're now waiting again, as I do with a lot of things around here, to get some Republican support."
The Las Vegas Review Journal observes that an online poker bill has little chance of passing through Congress as a stand-alone measure, and that political strategists are looking for safe legalization to which an online poker legalization proposal could be attached.
Heller said that such a legislative "vehicle" has not yet been identified.
"There are a lot of discussions going on, not a lot of answers at this point," he said. "We're still talking about the nuts and bolts on this but time is running out."
Heller also referred to opposition to online poker legalization from major Republican Party sponsor and Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson, saying:
"He has an opinion and obviously that is taken into consideration, and we have to work with it and around it to try to make something happen. I certainly don't discount his position."
"I know what Adelson's concerns are. He just wants to make sure this is a tight system, that we don't have problems with illegal gambling or problems with youth getting on and having access to Internet gaming. I think his concerns are legitimate. I want everybody to have a voice in this process, including Mr. Adelson," Heller told the LVRJ.
"I don't see his voice being any stronger or any less important than anybody else. He is just part of the puzzle."
On the timing for a renewed initiative, Heller commented that individual states were moving forward with their own intrastate online poker legalization plans, with 16 states considering various internet-based gambling possibilities, and this meant that Congress needs to take the initiative before the end of this year.
"It is critical that something happens this year," Heller said. "If we get beyond this year, I think that states will have gone too far in their efforts to basically legalize everything."