Initial reports surfaced about a week ago suggesting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was going to attach the online poker legislation to the bill. Then, just a couple of days later, Reid squashed such thoughts in a comment to a reporter saying there’d be no such attachment.
Word filtered around subsequently indicating that to attach the online poker legislation would threaten the bill (which Reid supported). Julio Rodriguez reported for Card Player that Reid’s “last ditch effort” to include the online poker legislation “fell short when it became apparent that it could put the entire legislation in jeopardy.” Perhaps it did, or perhaps it didn’t. Apparently Reid tried to attach other provisions to the bill, too, but those were all rejected by fellow legislators and not included either.
To finish the story, the bill was voted upon on Friday without any sort of ideas about regulating and licensing online poker in the U.S. attached, and just over two-thirds of the House voted in favor (across party lines). It also passed the Senate 60-36, where the Democrats were mostly for and Republicans against.
Thus came the headlines, most of which dovetailed upon Howard Stutz’ report for the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Online Poker seen folding its hand until 2013.” In addition to reporting on the non-inclusion of online poker in the federal bill, Stutz also alludes to Nevada having passed its own legislation last year and state regulators having further finalized regulations to ready the state to offer its own online gaming licenses. Stutz says 13 companies have applied for licenses thus far.
The “2013” Stutz included in his headline and lead paragraph -- and subsequently repeated every else you read the story being summarized (because, after all, we’re in an extensive echo chamber here) -- represents a gaming analyst’s speculation that no federal online poker bill will be brought up again during this election year, although the truth is that possibility remains only slightly less likely at present than it had been before. (In other words, still about the same long shot.)
There are other bills to which online poker legislation could get attached, but in truth few really know if or when such might be attempted. And as was the case last week when this talk suddenly arose for a couple of days before just as suddenly dying down, I don’t think there will be a lot of lead time if something along these lines were to occur.
In other words, “2013” is really not much more than a number here to represent a vague, calculated guess, because there’s a little less “2012” today than there was last week, and “2014” seems too far off to focus upon as a legitimate target for predictions.
All of which is to say I’m convinced no one is really sure of much of anything of substance when it comes to predicting what is going to happen on a federal level with regard to online gambling. Not with any real certainty, anyway.
What is easier to predict is that absent any real knowledge or information, we’ll keep repeating these numbers to each other.