Harry Reid’s staff is circulating a bill that would legalize online poker sites, the Wall Street Journal reports, in a none-too-subtle attempt to repay the big casinos that donated to his reelection campaign. The casinos argue that the bill would provide players with consumer protections, while tossing some tax revenue the government’s way. As an added perk for them, Reid’s current draft would allow only sites operated by existing casinos for the first two years.
The bill will be a tough sell. Three Republican lawmakers have already sent Reid a letter opposing the legislation. “Congress should not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues,” argued Spencer Bachus. Online gambling legislation has been a non-starter in the past, though Reid was opposed to those efforts. Now that he’s on board, casinos are optimistic he can slide the provision into another easier-to-pass bill. (Read more online poker stories.)