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Advocates for regulated online poker in the U.S. may lose the support of a key lawmaker as Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) may be changing jerseys and siding with the efforts of Sheldon Adelson to ban online gambling.

The Senate minority leader previously championed the Reid/Kyl bill during the 2014 election year that sought to carve out a niche for online poker while making online casino games illegal. That proposal was thought to have a chance during Congress’s lame duck session but ended up in the muck instead when fellow lawmakers were apathetic toward supporting the measure.

“I worked very hard to get online poker,” Reid said in a recent interview. “That didn’t work, could not get it done. Unless we can get something done with poker, I’m going to look closely — I haven’t made up my mind — but I’m going to look closely into banning it totally,” he added, as reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

The Fight Continues

That comes as a blow to advocates of online poker who continue to fight for the spread of regulation throughout the U.S. But with no states advancing legislation and launching online poker and gambling regimes since Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey did so in 2013, momentum has seemingly swung in favor of Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG).

That coalition was established by Adelson shortly after the trio of states began accepting online wagers and has proven to be a foe to be taken seriously. With Adelson’s backing, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) – a proposal to ban online gambling – is getting the attention of lawmakers. A hearing on the bill was held in March.

Should RAWA eventually find favor among enough legislators, the online poker and gambling regimes already established would be sent to the rail. That, in turn, would send U.S. online poker players in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – who now enjoy and are accustomed to the security of regulated poker – to unregulated sites where player funds are never safe.

Uncertain Future for iPoker

Reid is fixing to retire from public office next year. The 75-year-old stated in March that running for reelection in 2016 was not among his plans for the future. But he may be part of a disheartening future for online poker players in the U.S. if his final decision on the issue is to support Las Vegas Sands CEO Adelson and the CSIG.

The future of U.S. regulated online poker was looking up earlier this year when Nevada and Delaware began sharing player pools after launching the Multi State Poker Network. Interstate ipoker is seen as the model needed for a successful online poker scheme under the current state-by-state model of regulation.

That state-by-state approach was made possible by a 2011 DoJ ruling that clarified the antiquated 1961 Wire Act. RAWA attempts to overturn that decision and nullify the hard work done by the legislatures and igaming interests in the regulated states.

Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.