Kyl could also impact sports betting policy

Online Gambling Opponent Jon Kyl Is Back In Senate, Taking McCain’s Seat

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A familiar face is coming back to the US Senate: Jon Kyl.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has appointed the former US senator to the late John McCain‘s Senate seat.

Kyl is no friend of gambling

The appointment of Kyl was unwelcomed news in gaming circles. Kyl is notoriously anti-online gambling, evidenced by:

  • Shepherding the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) through Congress in 2006.
  • Links to a 2012 effort to ban online gambling at the federal level (with a poker carveout).

Prior to leaving office in 2013, Kyl’s official Senate website laid out his stance on online gambling thusly:

“I have opposed efforts to legalize internet gambling in the past because evidence suggests that it fosters problems unlike any other forms of gambling.

Online players can gamble 24 hours a day from home, children can play without sufficient age verification, and betting with a credit card can undercut a player’s perception of the value of cash – leading to possible addiction and, in turn, bankruptcy, crime, and even suicide.”

That said, online gambling doesn’t appear to be on the Senate’s short-term radar.

All about the SCOTUS?

The big issue of the day is the vacant Supreme Court seat.

With Republicans holding a slim majority in the US Senate, and an election in November, there’s a sense of urgency to confirm President Donald Trump‘s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Kyl seems to have alluded to that at his press conference, saying, “There is much unfinished business on the Senate’s calendar.”

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Kyl’s links to sports betting

There is another gaming issue that Kyl could have been talking about: Sports betting.

Two high-profile senators, Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have been talking up the issue, and Kyl is likely to echo their sentiments that echo those of pro sports leagues.

As Legal Sports Report noted on Tuesday:

“Kyl works as an advisor for the law firm Covington & Burling. It has represented many of the top pro US sports leagues in one fashion or another. It’s even dealt with sports data and statistics — one of the central issues the leagues are concerned with when it comes to sports betting — on behalf of the NFL.”

Despite his links to professional sports leagues, I suspect Kyl’s appointment has nothing to do with gambling issues and everything to do with Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS appointment.

That said, if the opportunity presents itself, Kyl, a veteran politician, would represent the leagues’ third powerful voice in the Senate.

How long will Kyl serve?

According to reports, the 76-year-old Kyl is considering stepping down at the end of the current session, but Gov. Ducey is hoping he will stay on until 2020, when a special election would be held to fill the seat.

“I’m willing to serve, certainly, through the end of the session … but I don’t want to make a commitment beyond that,” Kyl said at the press conference.

The true answer to that question likely depends on how the mid-term elections go. If Republicans lose their majority in the Senate it’s unlikely Kyl will want to stick around.

If Kyl were to step down at the end of the 2018 session, Ducey would be responsible for appointing a second replacement to finish out McCain’s term.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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