Jon Kyl Finally Speaks, Says Deal on Federal Poker Bill “Quite Possible” Jon Kyl Finally Speaks, Says Deal on Federal Poker Bill “Quite Possible”
DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

For the first time, Senator Kyl verified the longstanding rumors that he is working on a deal to federally regulate internet poker.

Pokerfuse has learned that Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has confirmed he is in talks with Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to create a bill that would federally regulate online poker while strengthening laws against other internet gambling.

A reporter for the National Journal spoke directly with Kyl asking if an agreement is likely this year. “Quite possibly something will be done,” said the Senator noting he had previously authored legislation at the request of attorney generals who saw a need for federal laws cracking down on online gambling.

The word from Kyl comes just a few days after Harry Reid also confirmed that he is in negotiations following the new DOJ ruling on the Wire Act. “It’ll give us an incentive to get something done,” Reid told Gambling Compliance reporter Tony Batt last week. “I’m a former Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and I think it’s very important we have a national law.”

Senator Reid gave hope to poker players everywhere by saying he was “making progress” with Kyl but refused to say how and when he will get the bill done.

Both Senators seem to have upped their efforts after the DOJ ruled that intrastate poker was allowable under federal law. “Recently the Department of Justice has written a letter casting doubt on how far the reach of the prosecution could be,” said Kyl. “Does it go beyond sports betting?”

Widely considered an enemy by most poker players, Kyl has a long history of opposing online gambling. However, the recent push by several states to allow games may force his hand to permit a carve-out for online poker if he wants to stop other forms of internet gambling. Kyl said the DOJ letter was really an invitation for Congress to say exactly what is prohibited.

“As a result of that [DOJ ruling] there is probably a need to tighten up the law to address all forms of internet gambling and in that context, things like internet poker,” said Kyl. “So I am involved in it because I am the author of the original legislation. Reid has supporters in Nevada who want to deal with online poker and obviously the two of us are therefore talking.”

Both Reid and Kyl have declined to say how they will get online poker through Congress. Many feel that the bill will be attached as a rider to larger legislation that is widely bipartisan to ensure passage. At this point the largest obstacle for such a move is a dysfunctional House and Senate that may not have the capacity to create a suitable piece of legislation for attachment.