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Heller on Reid/Kyl: Nothing’s “Ever Dead Around Here”

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A few days after Sen. Harry Reid  delivered a public eulogy for his efforts to pass a federal online poker bill in the 2012 lame duck session, his fellow Nevadan in the Senate is singing a slightly different tune.

According to Politico, Sen. Dean Heller has yet to stick the proverbial fork in Reid/Kyl’s lame duck prospects:

Asked Wednesday whether a federal bill regulating online poker and banning almost all other forms of Internet wagering remains possible, Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, snarked, “If you listen to Harry, it’s dead.” He referred, of course, to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has sounded increasingly morose about the prospects of the measure, which is the top priority of the casino lobby.

Heller was more upbeat, though. “I don’t believe anything’s ever dead around here,” he said. “I keep telling my side if it happens, it’s going to happen quick.”

Heller’s comments come two days after Mark Lipparelli, the former head of the Nevada Gaming Control board, penned an opinion piece for Roll Call urging Congress to pass Reid/Kyl in the lame duck.

Could Reid/Kyl still pass in the lame duck?

Theoretically, there’s still sufficient space in the lame duck for Reid and Kyl’s bill. Congress will likely squeeze in a few extra work days in this lame duck than in previous years thanks to the fiscal cliff negotiations. As for potential vehicles, this article from Roll Call outlines a number of avenues a poker bill could take.

Of course, significant hurdles remain and any last-minute Reid/Kyl push would meet stiff opposition from a number of corners. But if you’re asking whether it’s technically possible, the answer is yes.

What’s behind Heller’s comments?

They could be read as a swipe at Reid for his dramatic pronouncement on Friday about the death of the bill, suggesting that Reid’s comments are complicating ongoing work on Reid/Kyl.

Heller’s comments could also be an attempt to remind his supporters in the casino industry that while Reid is playing politics with their primary legislative priority, Heller continues his work to bolster the bill.

One thing’s for sure – for whatever reason, Heller has chosen to be on a different page (at least publicly) than Reid.

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