A summary text of the Reid-Kyl Internet gambling bill that has been circulating among a small number of lobbyists and lawmakers for two months finally leaked this week.
The bill is titled The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012. Although the draft bill is still being worked on and likely will have changes by the time it is introduced in the legislature, the summary text gives the poker community an early look at how the bill might be worded.
There are several segments that surely will be areas of concern for poker players:
- Not only does the bill strengthen the UIGEA against forms of Internet gambling outside of poker and horse racing, it changes the Wire Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act to apply to all forms of unlicensed Internet gambling.
- States are automatically opted out of offering Internet poker unless they opt in by a majority vote of the state legislature. In the Reid bill two years ago, states that offered brick-and-mortar poker were automatically opted in. Tribes can only opt in if tribal lands are located within a state that has opted in.
- For the first two years, only existing land-based casinos of a certain size will be licensed.
- Websites (such as PokerStars) that offered Internet gambling in the U.S. following the enactment of UIGEA are prohibited from being licensed for the first five years after the enactment of the bill.
- Just like two years ago, there is a 15-month blackout period. This isn't as big of a deal since most people who did play in the U.S. stopped playing after Black Friday.
- Existing gaming that is authorized, licensed and regulated by states or tribes as of May 1, 2012, will be grandfathered in. Delaware, the only state to authorize Internet gambling thus far, passed the bill in June and has yet to start licensing and regulation.
- Playing on unlicensed sites will be explicitly illegal with winnings subject to forfeiture. This means players in opt-out states will not be able to continue playing on offshore sites.
The chances for this bill passing by the end of the year are not looking good this week, with open bickering between principal authors Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), as well as Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Reid wrote a letter to Heller charging that the Republican Nevada Senator has failed to gain Republican support for a bill that is paramount to the state, and Kyl responded by saying Reid's letter and its political undertones had made passing the bill more difficult.
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*Photo courtesy of ThePoliticalCarnival.net