Thursday, December 09, 2010

Adding to the Cacophony: More on the “Reid bill”

Adding to the Cacaphony:  More on the 'Reid bill'Yesterday was certainly an interesting day for those of us curious about the fate of “Reid bill,” a.k.a. the “Prohibition of Internet Gaming, Internet Poker Regulation and UIGEA Enforcement Act” proposed by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) late last week (discussed here).

Lots of rumors swirling every which way on Wednesday regarding the bill’s possible fate, fueled in part by a bit of misleading reporting by the Las Vegas Sun.

Late in the afternoon, the Sun fired off a story with the headline “Harry Reid: Online poker falls off agenda” announcing that the Senate Majority Leader was no longer pursuing having the bill added as a rider to any other legislation, most particularly the tax bill that has taken absolute precedence for this lame-duck Congress.

That headline sounded pretty definitive. But the article itself was much less so. A quote from Reid in the article regarding his plans seemed ambiguous -- that is, it didn’t appear to indicate at all that he’d abandoned the fight to get some sort of licensing and regulatory scheme for online poker in the U.S. passed before the 111th Congress closes up shop.

And, as it turned out, that wasn’t the case at all.

After what I assume was a bit more legwork by the reporter, the article was quickly revised and given a new, very different headline: “Reid’s office: Legalizing online poker still on lame-duck agenda.” According to the updated article, a Reid spokesman explained away the earlier quote, saying “the Senator’s comment got muddled in the cacophony of the Senate hallways.”

Kind of a cacophony, too, on Twitter, in the forums, on various blogs and websites, and elsewhere with regard to this bill -- both in terms of its potential to become law and what exactly would happen should that come to pass.

Poll regarding the 'Reid bill'I had to laugh when yesterday I noticed a new poll over on Two Plus Two in the Poker Legislation forum asking the question “Do you want the ‘Reid bill’ to pass?” The poll’s results show an almost perfect divide between those who want to see it pass and those who do not.

Worth remembering, I think, who exactly is being polled here -- namely, poker players, probably all of whom play online regularly. Collectively, they don’t know what to think about the prospects of this bill, what with its temporary “blackout” period during which online poker apparently will be unavailable to U.S. players (other than via “black market” means), and its subsequent reorientation of the market to favor new casino-run sites and (apparently) sweeping aside the sites on which we presently play for a while. (Or for good?)

Makes me wonder... if the players aren’t even sure about it, how are legislators -- who obviously will be using an entirely different set of criteria to judge whether or not to support the bill -- responding to it?

From what I have heard, if the bill does indeed get added to the tax bill, it will most assuredly be passed. The real question, however, is whether or not Reid will be successful in that quest to get his “Prohibition of Internet Gaming, Internet Poker Regulation and UIGEA Enforcement Act” added.

And as far as that goes, I think anyone who says he or she knows definitively what will happen next is just making more noise -- adding further to the cacophony, you might say.

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Blogger Sean G said...

I'm pretty unhappy with the tax bill as it is (but that's for another blog) but having this legislation attached would make it a bit easier to swallow. Although I don't look forward to the fifteen month blackout, I think the long term benefits for low-stake recreational players like myself would be huge. As it is, I barely eked out $150 in profits this year, but I imagine in 2013 I'd be able to easily make four figures with all the new lousy players that should move over from Facebook or other free sites.

The LV Sun's reaction was hilarious, and indicative of the lack of professionalism in today's media... which, again, is really a subject for another blog. :)

12/09/2010 5:55 PM  
Blogger MooDotSki said...

I've been reading your excellent blog for a few months now, but haven't been brave enough to respond to anything until now.

I'm a UK resident so this doesn't affect me regards playing. But can you explain what this will do to my playing experience, which is recreational and micro-stakes really. I play on Stars and Cake network, so I guess a lack of US players on these two places? Is that right? Why have new players been mentioned? How are they going to be playing if there is a block on US players?

Or am I getting this waaaay wrong?

12/10/2010 7:54 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks, guys.

MooDotSki, it appears that if the Reid bill does manage to sneak through here -- which is looking doubtful at the moment (but who knows?) -- it will probably mean sites like Stars and Cake will have to let go of their U.S. players within 30 days of the bill being signed into law. Then will come that 15-month waiting period during which new U.S.-based online poker sites would apply for licenses. Once the 15 months is up, those new sites will start appearing & serving us Yanks.

The bill includes further stipulations about who will be allowed to get licenses to run the new sites, basically saying that only casinos & others already in the live poker industry here in the U.S. will be allowed to run online sites going forward. Yet another provision (that may or may not be in the final version of the bill) has sites like Stars, etc., having to wait another two years (after the 15 months) before they can even apply for a license, although even then it is hard to say if they will even be given a license.

All of which is to say, if the Reid bill passes, the immediate effect will be that you and I probably won't be playing against each other at the micro stakes tables on Stars anytime soon -- perhaps ever again. And down the road -- if I understand the bill correctly -- it will be some time (if ever) before U.S. players will be able to play against players from other countries, too.

I don't know what the impact will be for you, though I imagine you'll see fewer tables overall (at first, anyway). Go see F-Train, Pokerati, Part-Time Poker, and other sites for further commentary & reporting on all of this.

12/10/2010 10:46 AM  

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