There are good reasons to believe that an important senator is beginning to com around on the online poker issue. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has long been thought to be right on the fence with his legs swung over to the other side criticizing online gaming. Although Sen. Reid is still on the middle, the Senate Majority Leaders appears to be leaning forward the fence in favor of online poker.
The first sign of Sen. Harry Reid's change was his support of delaying the enforcement of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). It is not a well-known fact because he did without any announcement compared with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) but Sen. Reid quietly sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke asking for a postponement of the enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act regulations.
John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), said on February 16th, 2010 that they are not sure whether Sen. Reid has come around on the issue of regulation and licensing but they think yhst he recognizes that there are some serious deficiencies in the law. Pappas added that Sen. Reid supported the plan of delaying the UIGEA and they are encouraged by that fact.
The group was very encouraged by that fact that they started donating money for Sen. Reid's reelection bud. According to opensecrets.org, which tracks campaign contributions to candidates from political action committees, the Poker Players Alliance has donated a total of $6,000 this year to groups backing Reid.
The only other politician to whom the PPA has given contributions is Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who introduced the Senate proposal to license and regulate online poker. Sen. Reid is an important individual to have on the game of poker's side because of his considerable influence of holding the most powerful position in the Senate and coming from a state that has considerable connection to gambling.
Sen. Harry Reid has been in a difficult position since as a representative of the Nevada, his state features a lot of land-based casino facilities and poker rooms, some of which have been wary of the effect of widespread online gaming would have on their business interests. But influential Harrah's Entertainnment, wants to expand its presence in the online gaming market and supports regulation of online poker.
The PPA's campaign donations may be more about hope for a better future for online poker gaming than the present. The group does not usually give campaign contributions to politicians that are not fully behind their cause but Sen. Reid is an important figure in PPA's cause.
Pappas said that Sen. Reid's support in the postponement of the UIGEA is an important development in the issue and they are eager to continue education Sen. Reid about why the UIGEA is a failure and licensing and regulation are the most logical option.