Congress is entering their final weeks before they adjourn early for the elections this year and that gives Internet poker a small chance for Internet poker to get pushed through in a bill before the Congressional session comes to an end.
This year has already been one that has to seem some advancements in American citizens’ right to play poker with Representative Barney Frank’s bill to both regulate and license online gambling through the House Financial Services this July. However, the progress will not carry over in Congress from year to year and if there are changes from the election this November it may halt the momentum Internet poker has gained on Capital Hill. Although, players can still continue with Interwin while the government comes up with a decision on this issue.
The next thing that needs to happen is for Representative Jim McDermott’s Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act to get to the Ways and Means Committee. A representative for McDermott recently stated that the Congressman wants a bill markup that will take place in late September or early October.
However, McDermott is not in Frank’s position, as he has the power to make the decision if a bill will be marked up since he is the Financial Services Committee, chairman. McDermott has to convince the Ways and Means Committee chairman Sander Levin to get a bill markup.
Congress is back in session on October 8th, but John Pappas, who is the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) director, expects the representatives to come back after the 2nd of November for an extended session.
Pappas recently stated, “In past experience, they’ve worked all the way through Thanksgiving and through Christmas eve when I worked on the Hill. I wouldn’t expect anything different this time around. They have a lot of bills that need to be taken up. They don’t have the appropriation bills done. The lame-duck session is going to happen. It’s a necessity, no question about it.”
Members of the PPA that live in the districts of representatives of the Ways and Means Committee are being asked to write them letters to try to get members of Congress to push for a bill makeup.
Papas does not think that the Ways and Means Committee markup has to be held in this session in order for the momentum for the legalization of online poker to continue. He said, “If it doesn’t happen before the elections, we feel very good we can get a markup and vote during the lame-duck session.”
There will have to be some serious political wrangling in this extended session from Frank, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for legislation for online poker to go through in 2010.
Frank has been at the forefront of trying to get Internet poker legalized and regulated for several years and he may do everything in his power to pass his bill if there is a legitimate chance it will be passed. Reid comes from Nevada and he is one of the most powerful people in the Senate.
Land-based casinos, such as Harrah’s, that want online poker to be legalized, have influenced him. Even though Reid may have a warmed idea of legislation dealing only with poker, he has yet to show public support for the issue. It would be a major event if he were to come out and champion the idea of legalized online poker and make it happen this year.
Basically, poker players should not get their hopes up. However, there is still a better chance at the current time than there has ever been to legalize online poker in the United States.