Democratic Turmoil and What it Means for Poker
Lask week's surprise victory by Republican Scott Brown over the Obama-backed state Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley in a special election to fill the deceased Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat shows why it's looking less and less likely that poker legislation will be able to win a vote this year.
The Democrats on Capitol Hill are in full panic mode. The momentum heading into November's elections clearly is with the Republicans. It's not a matter of whether the Democrats will lose seats so much as how many seats they will lose.
Brown's election already took away the super-majority the Democrats held in the Senate, dropping the party to 59 seats instead of the 60 members needed to prevent a filibuster. Now the Democrats are worried about protecting their majority.
Few Democrats with tenuous holds on their seats are likely to want to take a stance on a controversial bill like Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act.
"Certainly, the timing of this is not good," admitted Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas.
In 2008, many Democrats rode on President Obama's coattails to victories in states or districts usually owned by Republicans. Those states didn't all of a sudden turn from red to blue overnight. Now that Obama's luster has worn off, they are likely to revert back to form.
A poll by The Washington Post, Henry J. Kaiser Family and Harvard University's School of Public Health showed that almost two-thirds of Brown's supporters intended their vote as an opposition message to Democrats in D.C.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is the Speaker of the House, the most powerful person in the House of Representatives. As such, she has substantial influence over her Democratic colleagues in the House. In order to remain Speaker of the House, Pelosi needs to make sure that the Democrats maintain their majority. She will discourage her colleagues from taking stances that could endanger the majority and her position.
This is why, if Frank's bill can get through his Financial Services Committee and go in front of the full House this year, the legislation is likely to stall at that point and not go up for a House vote.
Hesitancy by incumbent Democrats to support poker legislation will be an issue around election time for the PPA and its membership. There is also concern that, since poker legislation has had more support from Democrats than Republicans, the momentum for the Republicans could hurt poker's future prospects.
"The Poker Players Alliance is a non-partisan organization," Pappas said. "If we have races where Democrats who normally support us shy away from the issue but the Republicans candidate supports us, we're going to support the Republican. It's as simple as that, and vice versa."
"I think it's a real opportunity for the poker community to step up and say we're going to care about this issue in the election and vote on it. I think it's an opportunity for the poker community to show its mettle as a political force rather than just a grassroots organization."
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The Kentucky Supreme Court did not include the case regarding Kentucky's attempt to seize Internet gambling domain names in its decisions released last week, meaning the case will not be determined until at least March.
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