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Nevada Sen. Harry Reid Thinks Internet Poker Should Get RAWA Carve-Out

Retiring Congressman Open To Total Ban If Poker Can't Be OK'd

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Retiring Nevada Sen. Harry Reid indicated in an interview on Monday that he’s not opposed to the Sheldon Adelson-backed bill to ban online gaming nationwide, but that poker should be considered for a carve-out, according to a report from the Las Vegas Sun.

In other words, Reid still thinks Internet poker should be legal in America, even though his position is a bit murky these days.

“Unless we can get something done with poker, I’m going to look closely — I haven’t made up my mind — but I’m going to look closely into banning [online gambling] totally,” Reid said. “I’m going to take a hard look at it. It would be something I would certainly consider strongly.”

Reid apparently still believes a nationwide online poker industry would be a good thing. He has long been opposed to other forms of Internet gambling and seems more against the other games than ever before. His home state just has online poker right now. New Jersey and Delaware both have other casino games on the web in addition to peer-to-peer poker.

Right now, California is considering poker-only web gaming legislation, while Pennsylvania appears poised to regulate numerous online casino games in the near future.

In late March, Reid said that online gambling isn’t right for Nevada.

“If there is a chance to [legalize] poker, I will do that, but I am not for the Wire Act,” Reid also said last year. The 2011 DoJ re-interpretation of the Wire Act allowed for states to regulate online poker but didn’t make online poker legal in one fell swoop. States still have to legalize it on their own.

As he gets ready to leave Congress, Reid appears entrenched in his position against house-banked online casino games and is willing to consider a ban on online poker to get that done, but he would prefer poker to have an exemption and be legal nationwide.

There’s currently a bill on the table from a Rep. John Chaffetz (R-Utah) to ban online gaming, but there’s a strong possibility that a bill will also be introduced by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. That could come later this year and would appear more likely to be the vehicle to pass some form of Adelson’s desired online gaming ban.

No vote has been held on the Chaffetz bill and it has not been marked up since March’s hearing.

If Reid was able to get an online poker carve-out from a Graham bill it would leave a federal online gaming ban pretty watered down, since there has been word that state lotteries could also get a carve-out. Fantasy sports, as well as closed-circuit betting that utilizes the Internet, would also likely be unaffected. Adelson’s Las Vegas casinos engage in mobile sports betting.