The draft of a federal online poker bill proposed by Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl that has been widely circulated since being leaked roughly two weeks ago has its share of opponents who have recently spoken out against the proposal.
Many tribal gaming interests vehemently oppose the draft bill that would permit tribes to only offer Internet poker if their state legislatures agree to opt-in to the federal plan. There is a deep concern among tribes that the proposal is much too beneficial to the state of Nevada and its casinos. Michael Lombardi, chairman of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians Gaming Commission that holds membership in the California Online Poker Association (COPA), recently told eGaming Review that the proposal “might be good for about half a dozen [tribes] but the rest get screwed.” Lombardi stressed that tribes need to stick together and that “anyone from tribal country lobbying in Washington for this bill is a traitor” and that the Reid-Kyl proposal “really only benefits a handful of major brands in Nevada.”
Native tribes are not the only gaming interests who believe that the current draft of the online poker bill is unacceptable. The state of Delaware enacted the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act of 2012 in June that allows for online casino games to be offered to Delaware residents. The Reid-Kyl proposal aims to regulate poker, off-track horse wagering and lottery sales via the Internet but does not permit online casino betting. Delaware’s intention upon passing the act was to compete with casinos in surrounding states and keep the money wagered by its residents in Delaware. If the Delaware legislature approved opting in to the Reid-Kyl plan, the state’s Gaming Competitiveness Act signed by Gov. Jack Markell just a few months ago would be obsolete. That is not likely to happen.
“Absolutely it would face resistance,” University of Delaware professor Tammy Anderson said to the Review, the university newspaper. “Markell spent a great amount of political capital in getting [the Delaware Gaming Competitiveness Act] accomplished.”
New Jersey is also not keen on the federal draft bill with that state’s staunchest supporter of online gambling, Sen. Raymond Lesniak, heavily encouraging his fellow Garden State lawmakers to fight the bill. Lesniak has proposed Internet gambling legislation in New Jersey for years.
“Reid’s bill would do serious damage to Atlantic City’s chances of recovering from its slump,” Lesniak insisted. “I still intend to achieve my plan to regulate online gambling in New Jersey as soon as possible, which would attract an additional $200 million of gross revenues a year for the casino industry and also present a huge opportunity to allow the casinos to market Atlantic City to new customers over the internet. Kyl and Reid are trying to take that away from us.”