Reid to sneak online poker legalization into tax deal? Update: Reid retreats

posted at 2:55 pm on December 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Harry Reid must be a political opportunist — excuse me, optimist.  Where others see defeat, Reid sees a chance to win a hand or two for his casino backers in Nevada.  Politico reports that Reid will attempt to attach a rider onto the Senate version of the tax deal reached by Barack Obama and Republicans on Capitol Hill to legalize online poker in the US, with provisions that give gaming corporations a big head start:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to use the tax cut package President Barack Obama brokered with Republicans to legalize online poker, POLITICO has learned — a move that could further complicate the deal Obama announced Monday.

Already, the online poker proposal has exposed the Nevada Democrat to charges of flip-flopping on a controversial issue, as well as using his Senate leadership position to repay big casino interests that helped him win reelection in a hard-fought campaign against Republican Sharron Angle last month.

No! I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked to find gambling in the Harry Reid Casino.  After all, Caesar’s Entertainment Group (formerly Harrah’s) and MGM Resorts pushed over a quarter-million dollars directly into Reid’s campaign.   They put another $375,000 into Patriot Majority, which attacked Sharron Angle with over $3.3 million in outside ads.

The proposal itself is nothing more than old-fashioned corporate welfare for casinos in Nevada and New Jersey, too:

The National Indian Gaming Association is opposing Reid’s effort to insert the online poker language in any tax cut bill, said an official with the group, Jason Giles. He asserted it gives an advantage to Las Vegas-based gambling operators while discriminating against tribal operators.

“It is drafted to create an initial regulatory monopoly for Nevada and New Jersey for the first several years of the bill, which gives Las Vegas operators time to capture the market,” he said.

In previous proposals, the legalization would only apply to select companies in a years-long trial run, ostensibly to test whether legalization creates problems in the US.  The real purpose of conducting the “trial run” is to give a big head start to established companies, eliminating the chance that others could compete for the business.  Those restrictions in previous versions heavily favored the Nevada-New Jersey gaming industry, while locking out smaller players (such as the Indian casinos).

It’s no secret that Reid has a big tab with the casinos that rescued him from the Republican tidal wave.  However, he’s going to have a tough time selling the notion that the biggest priority in the lame duck session is to legalize online poker rather than deal with the budget, which is still far from complete, or that poker legalization belongs in the same bill as the tax deal.  Regardless of the merits of the concept of legalization (which I wouldn’t oppose), both the corporate welfare and the timing of this proposal should sink it in the remaining session of Congress.

Update: Looks like Harrah Reid was attempting to draw three to an inside straight:

Rest easy, traditionalists: online poker will not be entering the legally authorized gaming arena this lame duck Congress, and that probably means it won’t be happening any time soon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Las Vegas Sun after a press conference this afternoon that despite a flurry of last-minute lobbying, he would not be adding legalization of online poker to his list of objectives during the lame duck.

“We’re still working on that, we’re not able to,” Reid said.

No worries; Reid will still be dealing the hands in the next session of the Senate, and eventually the house always wins.  Except, in this case, if the House wins.


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Doesn’t gambling affect the poor disproportionately?

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

The National Indian Gaming Association is opposing Reid’s effort to insert the online poker language in any tax cut bill, said an official with the group, Jason Giles. He asserted it gives an advantage to Las Vegas-based gambling operators while discriminating against tribal operators.

Harming the Indians? Harry Reid is a racist!

rbj on December 8, 2010 at 3:00 PM

So in exchange for bribes, a few select companies get exclusive access to a market, with competitors kept at bay, at the point of a gun.

I’d like to insert snarky comment about leftist trash at this point, but if Pawlenty thought he could gain some Indian vote in Minnesota, he’s probably do the same thing.

Gambling should either be legal or illegal. Period. No more grey areas, or sleazy politicians picking the forms allowed, the venues allowed, ect.

MNHawk on December 8, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Thanks Nevada.

ornery_independent on December 8, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Weird how this isn’t a bigger story. If it was a republican, we’d be hearing about mob ties and corruption, but he’s a dem so nevermind.

JavelinaBomb on December 8, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Harry is owned by the unions,and we know who owns the unions and casinos.They own him lock,stock and slot machine.

docflash on December 8, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Online gambling is like prostitution and marijuana. You have two options:

1. Legalize it and tax/regulate it and allow people who want to partake in the activities to partake in the activities without being criminals.

2. Don’t legalize it. Get no tax revenue and call the people who partake in the activity criminals.

With either choice anyone who wants to partake in the activity will.

angryed on December 8, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Let’s all hope Boehnor follow through with his pledge to end this silliness of adding provisions to bills that have nothing to do with the original legislation
Dems and Republicans should vote AGAINST the tax cuts and the Dream act
I think real Americans can wait a few weeks to get a real tax code law in place ………….

ELMO Q on December 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM

At an off-camera briefing this afternoon, National Economic Council director Larry Summers said that a failure to pass the tax cut compromise President Obama negotiated “would significantly increase the risk” of a double-dip recession.

… and they let it go till now ?

J_Crater on December 8, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Reid to sneak online poker legalization into tax deal?

Wanna bet?

Boehnor…kill it. Kill it now.

coldwarrior on December 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Wait – online gambling is illegal? Who knew!?

CityFish on December 8, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I would expect to see all the smaller State gambling interests line up against this, ie. lotto, river boats, horse racing, bingo, etc. etc.

tommyboy on December 8, 2010 at 3:09 PM

the legalization would only apply to select companies in a years-long trial run, ostensibly to test whether legalization creates problems in the US.

While I support online gambling legalization; this kind of crap is bullcrap. They just can’t let a good thing happen without a little bit of authoritarianism mucking it up.

lorien1973 on December 8, 2010 at 3:13 PM

ostensibly to test whether legalization creates problems in the US.

Have they noticed any problems over the past few years?

Legal or not, everyone I know that likes gambling and poker regularly plays poker (for money) online.

There might be a few more people that start using the programs once they’re legalized, but, I doubt it will be that large of an increase.

JadeNYU on December 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Man. I am so tired of our elected Government scumbags, and the ignorant anserine voters who put them there.

FlatFoot on December 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I couldn’t possibly care less about online gambling, but I fully support any move that ties up the senate for the rest of its pitiful term.

pedestrian on December 8, 2010 at 3:15 PM

This was #10 on the list of demands that liberals gave to congress back in Jan 2009 that I sneered at. Also on the list:

#7 Get insurance companies out of healthcare

#6 Revoke the Bush tax cuts on the top 1%

and #1 Legalize marijuana

The full list is here

Just A Grunt on December 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Hey, how ya doin? You gotta problem with this? Fuggedaboudit. You know what I’m sayin?

slickwillie2001 on December 8, 2010 at 3:18 PM

There’s other stuff tucked into the tax deal as well. The ethanol subsidy was on its way out the door…and Republicans spoke of not renewing it at all. Guess what?

The tax legislation that congressional Republicans and the White House have agreed to will include extensions of the biodiesel and ethanol subsidies through 2011, says Iowa. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. The $1-a-gallon biodiesel subsidy, which lapsed at the end of 2009, would be retroactive to this year, he said.

I’d like to see my food bill go down.

marybel on December 8, 2010 at 3:19 PM

The National Indian Gaming Association is opposing Reid’s effort to insert the online poker language in any tax cut bill,

I wonder if this has anything to do with the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans who run gambling casinos in eastern Connecticut. Can’t let La$ Vega$ and Jer$ey have all the $$$.

Does this make Harry Reid the King of Clubs?

Steve Z on December 8, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Frankly I would love to see the National Indian Gaming Association give Reid a historical demonstration on how they used to deal with people of his ilk.

I do believe they called it “scalping”.

And I don’t mean as in getting tickets for sporting events.

pilamaye on December 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Didn’t the Senate just impeach and convict a judge today that had a gambling addiction? Have you no shame Harry?

Rovin on December 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

According to NRO, Grassley wants ethanol subsidies in there, too.

Wonder if they’ll pork it up to get votes.

Wethal on December 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Snort. That little parasite has been attaching himself to legislation that takes care of his special interests for decades now, it’s his calling card. And he knows all the dirty little tricks to ram it through, too, just in case someone tries to stop him.

scalleywag on December 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Doesn’t gambling affect the poor disproportionately?

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Nah…just people who are bad at math.

Asher on December 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Legal or not, everyone I know that likes gambling and poker regularly plays poker (for money) online.

JadeNYU on December 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I got a little more difficult after they cut off bank access to it, but I know I can still play whenever I want, and my husband plays just as much as he did before.

There’s not even really a pressing need to make it legal.

Esthier on December 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM

The $1-a-gallon biodiesel subsidy, which lapsed at the end of 2009, would be retroactive to this year, he said.

If only there was some type of party that was opposed to this kind of crap that we could vote for.

pedestrian on December 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Have you no shame Harry?

Rovin on December 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Hahahahahahahahahah. Good one.

scalleywag on December 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Let’s see if the Pubs have the rocks to vote No on the bill if this steaming turd is included. This is nothing but a game of chicken.

CantCureStupid on December 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Now I hope the whole thing comes to a halt until the new congress is sworn in. This tax bill, the dream act, dadt, and every other piece of legislation can just wait as far as I am concerned.

fourdeucer on December 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Didn’t the Senate just impeach and convict a judge today that had a gambling addiction? Have you no shame Harry?

Rovin on December 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM

Poker isn’t exactly gambling. There’s a reason players have multiple word series bracelets, and it’s not just luck.

Esthier on December 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM

A DeMint filibuster is starting to look a lot better today.

pedestrian on December 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM

According to NRO, Grassley wants ethanol subsidies in there, too.

Wonder if they’ll pork it up to get votes.

Wethal on December 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

Snort. That little parasite has been attaching himself to legislation that takes care of his special interests for decades now, it’s his calling card. And he knows all the dirty little tricks to ram it through, too, just in case someone tries to stop him.

scalleywag on December 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM

This could apply to either Reid or G(r)assley

aquaviva on December 8, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Gambling has a disproportionate negative effect on the stupid.

Akzed on December 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Doesn’t gambling affect the poor disproportionately?

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

The cynical side of me says gambling is only a stupidity tax that shows how riches are usually acquired – spend money on the right things and get lucky…

But in all honesty, you’re right. The gambling industry is a leech even worse than the tobacco or alcohol industries. It’s voluntary communism – draining wealth from the many to make a handful wealthy – and is addictive as a drug. It destroys families and drives individuals to suicide and crime.

Unfortunately there’s simply no way to stop Internet-based gambling at the moment. Since there’s a woefully insufficient effort to stop software piracy, this would be a hopeless cause.

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Gambling has a disproportionate negative effect on the stupid.
Akzed on December 8, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I’ve always heard the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

tommyboy on December 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Hey, how ya doin? You gotta problem with this? Fuggedaboudit. You know what I’m sayin?

slickwillie2001 on December 8, 2010 at 3:18 PM

Somebody offered Harry an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Fuggedaboudit.

portlandon on December 8, 2010 at 3:35 PM

Harry’s going all in while he has a full house of Democrats…

albill on December 8, 2010 at 3:39 PM

So is someone here actually inferring that Harry Reid’s votes are for sale????????

Actually, I like poker so I don’t really care one way or the other on this issue…but it just puts front and center why a lot of us are against pork.

search4truth on December 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Harry’s going all in while he has a full house of Democrats…
albill on December 8, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Hopefully he’s drawing to an inside straight. Or better yet, holding eights and aces.

tommyboy on December 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Good points…the impact on the young will be scary.

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Reid talked about joblessness leading to domestic violence, but wont losing your savings lead to a similar outcome?

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I wonder if there has ever been a single bill that has gotten by since Reid has been in office that didn’t have SOMEthing in there for his cronies and special pals. Somehow I doubt it.

scalleywag on December 8, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I have been playing online poker for 7 years. Bush snuck the “ban” into the Port Security Act.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,220496,00.html

It is still going on so why not legalize it and tax it?

Bodhi on December 8, 2010 at 3:46 PM

The other funny thing is that the casinos don’t own the largest online poker sites so it would actually hurt brick and mortar casinos. I hate Reid as much as the next guy but I don’t have a problem with this.

Bodhi on December 8, 2010 at 3:47 PM

I’ve always heard the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

tommyboy on December 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

And worse. How often do you see Journalism School graduates describe a series of $200,000 payments over 20 years as 4 million dollars. Nevermind the guy might walk away with $1,000,000 as a cash now option, and after the government took back half the winnings in taxes…

If you make payments on a $200,000 house over 30 years you don’t say you live in a $600,000 just because the payments add up to such. Then why do government types and their J-School enablers use that “logic” on a state run lottery? It truely is only the stupid that play lotteries, and lap up what is told them.

MNHawk on December 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM

JavelinaBomb on December 8, 2010 at 3:03 PM

No, if it were a Republican we would be hearing about how the repeal of that campaign finance thing by John, you know who I mean, and Russ, oh what’s his name, has allowed those evil corporations to influence the election.

That evil John Roberts and the rest of those right-wing justices should be ashamed of themselves by upholding the First Ammendment.

belad on December 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Good points…the impact on the young will be scary.

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM

You reminded me of another insidious aspect of gambling (don’t know how I forgot this). Surely you’ve heard tales of scumballs soothing worried ears with the assurance that the tax revenue will fund the local schools? That’s one of the industry’s favorite lines.

It always ends up the same – the additional revenue is minimal, precious little of that gets to the schools, and the students are far worse off by the damage to their families. Not a few children have gone to class with frayed clothing or without breakfast because Daddy spent a little too much in the shiny new casino nearby.

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 3:49 PM

It’s easy to get around any bans now on online gambling. You pay a 3rd party, who gives you some kind of credits, which you can then use at a poker place.

Poly Sci tards and their bans are no match for those in the real world.

MNHawk on December 8, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Outstanding idea…..give the poor more ways to piss away the few dollars they have to their name. Maybe they will be allowed to use federal food stamps to gamble…..brilliant.

Thanks Nevada, you elected a classy guy.

David in ATL on December 8, 2010 at 3:52 PM

Good points…the impact on the young will be scary.

joepub on December 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM

You reminded me of another insidious aspect of gambling (don’t know how I forgot this). Surely you’ve heard tales of those skunks soothing worried ears with the assurance that “the tax revenue will fund the local schools”? That’s one of the industry’s favorite lines of all time.

But it always ends up the same – the additional revenue is minimal (tax-savvy lawyers on the team), precious little of that gets to the schools (trickle-down FTL…again), and the students are far worse off by the damage caused to their families. It’s even worse than heavy taxes – you get nothing back.

Not a few children have gone to class with frayed clothing or without breakfast because Daddy lost a little too much in the shiny new casino down the road.

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 3:53 PM

Democrats all over the country support gambling.

It’s the ultimate way to turn wealthy into poor, and to keep poor poor.

Should be the democrat seal.

cntrlfrk on December 8, 2010 at 3:54 PM

Not a few children have gone to class with frayed clothing or without breakfast because Daddy spent a little too much in the shiny new casino nearby.

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 3:49 PM

They’ve also gone to school without breakfast because “Daddy” spent all their money on booze, or at the strip club or on his new girlfriend/mistress. The government can’t stop “Daddy” from being a horrible father.

Esthier on December 8, 2010 at 3:59 PM

For states with gambling – lottery, etc. it is predicted that this will eat into those revenues… so as state residents we will have to make up the shortfall – while the Nevada casinos rake in the money.

unaffiliated on December 8, 2010 at 4:06 PM

The other funny thing is that the casinos don’t own the largest online poker sites so it would actually hurt brick and mortar casinos. I hate Reid as much as the next guy but I don’t have a problem with this.

Bodhi on December 8, 2010 at 3:47 PM

That is what this rider is supposed to change, but only to the benefit of the Harry’s backers.

Slowburn on December 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM

We’ve got Dianne Feinstein trying to screw small tribes in California, and now Harry Reid trying to keep tribal casinos from benefitting at the behest of his casino backers.

Yet NEITHER ONE will stand up directy TO the tribes that violate the civil and human rights of their people.

It’s a sad state when the Dems call themselves the “good guys”.

originalpechanga on December 8, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Legalize online poker, illegalize Harry Reid.

Ryan Anthony on December 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

While I support online gambling legalization; this kind of crap is bullcrap. They just can’t let a good thing happen without a little bit of authoritarianism Corporatism (AKA fascism) mucking it up.

lorien1973 on December 8, 2010 at 3:13 PM

FIFY

iurockhead on December 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

dingy Harrah is a really nasty little POS.

OmahaConservative on December 8, 2010 at 5:27 PM

No worse than our own Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s tactics in October ’06… If you recall, he snuck an anti-gambling measure (H.R. 4411) into a critical port security bill moments before the vote. A vote that had to occur before congress went on recess later that day. He left absolutely no time for debate; the choice was to vote for the port security bill as-is (with the gambling measure attached), or vote no and risk political suicide a month before the election.
   
It was an utterly disgraceful tactic. That’s simply not how our democracy is supposed to work and there have been serious unintended consequences -Specifically, it created a great new way for terrorists and criminals to move money under the radar. Our politicians literally ensured that the only financial institutions involved in online gaming would be those far outside the arm of US banking regulation. H.R. 4411 didn’t outlaw poker, but it said a US player can’t use his or her bank or any of it’s tools (checks, credit cards, debit cards, funds transfers, etc) to fund an internet gambling account. US banks were also prohibited from making the transfers. The result of this ill-conceived measure? Millions of poker players in the United States began to finance their poker accounts simply by transferring their money to an overseas intermediary (one not compliant with or subject to US Law), and payouts now occur via check through thousands of dummy corporations set up across the US and Canada. Why would a terrorist financier bother with a bank when they can just lose a few hands of poker? What was once a small number of transactions through a few rogue financial institutions has now become the de-facto standard for online gambling transactions. H.R. 4411 took it mainstream, and tracking illegal money is now that much more difficult… but you know, poker is just so darn immoral we didn’t have a choice! Just another example of what happens when politicians start to think their agendas are more important the the democracy, itself. I don’t care if we’re talking about the public option or public schools, we debate this stuff for a reason.
   
That being said, I’m actually with Reid on this one-If for no other reason than my own seething hatred for the Nanny-State BS. It’s entirely hypocritical to say “it’s your money, not the government’s” when it comes to taxes, but at the same time tell me I can’t play poker with it …but I can play the lottery. If the lottery- a game of pure chance with absolutely horrendous odds- is legal, then no rational explanation exists that can justify outlawing wagers on a game of skill like poker- online or otherwise.
   
Furthermore, with all this talk about overspending and throwing away money, it’s beyond stupid to let billions in taxable dollars from online gaming disappear overseas year after year. Revenues from foreign and American players could fund the Dem’s stinkin’ unemployment benefits for decades.

Medicated on December 8, 2010 at 5:46 PM

Sneaky creep isn’t he. 6 more years of this clown. Thanks Nevada.

jeanie on December 8, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Sneaky creep isn’t he. 6 more years of this clown. Thanks Nevada.

jeanie on December 8, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Maybe not.

You know that the only reason he was elected again is because he promised he’d get this deal passed.

“You do this for us Harry, we make sure you’re elected.”

The mafia don’t do will with broken promises.

Rod on December 8, 2010 at 6:33 PM

Online gambling is bad for the people of Nevada because it deprives the state of tourism dollars, but it is good for the casinos who offer online gambling.
So effectively Dingy Harry is representing a handful of Las Vegas casinos and giving all the Nevadans who elected him the shaft. He’s representing corporations…not the people.

OxyCon on December 8, 2010 at 6:41 PM

OxyCon on December 8, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Yep, have to wonder how those thuggish Nevada unions that worked so hard to ‘elect’ dingy are going to find jobs for their subjects when gambling moves online, and all the online IT is in India?

slickwillie2001 on December 8, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Don’t tax it. Don’t regulate it. Just legalize it. Ain’t freedom great?

Bugler on December 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Don’t tax it. Don’t regulate it. Just legalize it. Ain’t freedom evil great?

Bugler on December 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Not really, but we have to acknowledge that sometimes crime does pay and there’s no practical way to stop it.

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Dark-Star on December 8, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Not a big fan of the Constitution, are you?

Bugler on December 8, 2010 at 8:10 PM

Not a big fan of the Constitution, are you?

Bugler

Don’t let them fool you….there’s a little nanny-stater hidden in many so-called Conservatives.

xblade on December 8, 2010 at 9:40 PM