Senate Holds Indian Online Gaming Hearing

This week in United States legislation for online gaming

Senate Holds Indian Online Gaming Hearing

On Thursday morning the Senate held another hearing on the impacts internet gambling will have on tribes. The hearing was a response to the recent DOJ change of opinion asking the question “What’s at Stake for Tribes?”

Much of the discussions centered on concerns that states could not use online gambling to diminish tribal gaming revenues. The committee unanimously agreed that tribes, especially smaller tribal companies, need a federal system put in place to allow competition for both tribal and commercial interests.

Distinguished gaming lawyer I. Nelson Rose testified on behalf of the DOJ ruling. Rose emphasized that tribal companies may need consent from their respective state in order to offer online games not based on their own land. The gaming lawyer reaffirmed the need for federal oversight to ensure that these tribes have protection from the states and commercial companies.

The Poker Players Alliance also testified on behalf of the poker community. Patrick Flemming, the PPA Litigation Support Director, claimed that online poker would not be a burden on tribal profits but would rather refer more business to their doors.

Aside from the discussions no legislative actions were taken on the issue. It remains to be seen whether a bill specific to tribal online gaming will be introduced but the hearing was broadly accepted by gaming experts for its “when not if” message.

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DC Repeals Online Gambling Measure

On Tuesday a Washington D.C. council voted to repeal the bill that would make it the first jurisdiction in the country to regulate online gambling. The move was supported by a 10 to 2 vote to end the city’s contract to offer games to residents. Many members of the council reported that they did not know they were supporting a online gambling law when they supported the budget provision it was attached to last year. The author of the measure, Michael A. Brown, stated an interest in retrying the legislation for concerns that “casino interests” would try to federalize internet gaming before the city can.

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Reid/Kyl Rumors Continue to Swirl

In the last few days unconfirmed reports have emerged that Senator Harry Reid will be attempting to attach federal online poker legislation to the upcoming payroll tax bill this month. The Daily Helsman reported late Wednesday that a Tennessee lottery lobbyist was informed of the plan:

Wendell Moore, senior public policy advisor to a law firm that provides back-of-house operations for the Tennessee lottery, said that while lobbying in Washington, D.C. in meetings with opponents to the online poker act, he was told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to propose an online gaming amendment to the Senate’s unemployment payroll tax bill this month.

Hours later another mention was made of this plan by Global Gambling Business reporter Roger Gros’ twitter account:

Source: NV Gov. Sandoval calls top casino execs and tells them of agreement between Reid & Kyl, adding internet poker to payroll tax bill.

The tweet received much attention from the poker community and was quickly denied by the twitter account of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval:

@GlobalGamingBiz This report is false. Governor Sandoval has made no such statements.

There has been no confirmation of the rumor by any major media outlet or political figures. Senator Reid and Arizona Senator Jon Kyl have however confirmed they are in discussions on the matter.


The Payroll Tax Cut: A Closer Look

The payroll tax cut being discussed is set to expire by the end of the month. The debate is not over whether the tax reductions should take place but rather how to supplement the revenue loss the cuts create. This is the crux of the issue dividing lawmakers and could stop a bill from passing. Both Reid and Kyl are however sitting on the 20 member committee assigned resolve the debate.

The committee is keeping the discussion in private so little is known whether online poker is in the talks as a revenue component. The cuts must be renewed by February 29 which means an attachment may be close if the rumors are true.


Iowa State Senator in Favor of Online Poker

Following the DOJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act, there has been a number of states looking to Internet gambling as a source of revenue to balance state budgets. Iowa is no exception. According to IowaPolitics.com, State Senator Jeff Danielson expects to introduce a bill to legalize online poker in Iowa later this month.


Utah Delays Vote to Explicitly Prohibit Online Gambling

On Tuesday, Utah delayed a vote on a bill that would ban online gambling in the state. Voting on the HB108 – which would require Internet service providers to block online gambling web sites – was postponed to further study the financial impact of the bill.

Even though the state constitution explicitly prohibits all gambling, Representative Steven Sandstrom, chief sponsor of HB108, is concerned that a federal law permitting online gambling could force Utah to abide by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and result in gambling within the state, according to Desert News.