Reid on Poker Bill: “Talk to the Republicans”

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Nevada Senator Harry Reid briefly discussed the prospects of his lame duck effort to regulate online poker at a press conference today.

Video is here, comments come right about the 5:00 mark.

Reid offered a handful of frustrated-sounding sentences that directed blame at Republicans for a purported lack of progress on Reid/Kyl.  My transcription:

“What’s holding it up? I said “Republicans””

“Talk to the Republicans, I mean, it’s up to them.”

“I have said on a number of occasions that the Internet poker bill can move forward if we get 15-17 Republican votes. At this stage we’ve got none.”

None?  Seems like he should at least have Heller and Kyl.

Both the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review Journal subsequently ran articles suggesting Reid’s comments signaled a downgrade of the chances of an online poker passing in the lame duck.  I personally don’t see any space between Reid’s comments today and his comments on Nov 15th to the National Journal.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Kyl had the following to say to GamblingCompliance (paywall, via TwoPlusTwo):

I wouldn’t assume anything is holding it up. Just talk to Harry Reid […] I think Senator Reid would like to see it happen […] I haven’t talked to him, but I think he’d like to get it done.

Senator Heller offered his assessment of the situation to the Sun:

Poker “is an issue that’s on the front burner for me, for Sen. Reid and Sen. Kyl,” Heller said Tuesday. “The front burner for everybody else is this rules package and the fiscal cliff … it’s just hard getting it to the forefront so that we can make it an issue and get it moving.”

In my view, there’s not much new to see here.  It’s virtually impossible to unpack the various signals and codes built into public statements by political leaders, especially during times of intense media scrutiny.  The public comments of Reid, Kyl and Heller are all shaped by strategic concerns likely having little to do with poker and everything to do with more significant legislative issues like the fiscal cliff.

Reid’s comments on poker, for example, occurred in the context of a five-minute diatribe about how Republicans are blocking everything under the sun.  Was he speaking honestly, or was he just sticking to his larger talking points?

A lame duck poker bill was always going to be a rider to a must-pass bill.  Counting votes is a little moot as a result.  My opinion is that Kyl and Reid will either attach their bill in a way that they believe will not trigger a filibuster, or it won’t be attached at all.

With only a handful of working days left in the session, players won’t have to wait long to find other either way.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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