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Hopes of U.S. lawmakers passing an online poker bill appeared to fade this week as Republican Senator Dean Heller broke party ranks to suggest that the House of Representatives should be the first to tackle the bill.
Heller, a Senator from Nevada wrote a letter to Reid suggesting that "...it would be beneficial for the House of Representatives to first address this issue."
The original bill was crafted by Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl, and would have legalized and regulated online poker within the United States. However, in order to muster support for the bill, Senators from both parties were tasked with lobbying fellow lawmakers for support. A spokesperson for Senator Reid said that Heller could not rally enough support and is trying to pass blame to others.
"Several months ago Sen. Reid asked Sen. Heller to secure Republican votes to help pass an Internet poker bill and to date, Sen. Heller has not been able to secure any support," the spokesperson said.
"Rather than standing to fight for this important issue for Nevada, Sen. Heller has decided to run for cover and attempt to lay blame on others."
The letter to Reid by Heller noted that: "With over a dozen states already taking steps to legalize and expand Internet gambling, I recognize that we must act quickly. I am concerned with attempts to impose a deadline on a Friday afternoon during recess, providing little if any time to reconfirm the necessary support among my conference."
Heller also urged Reid to address the policy change at the Department of Justice that states that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting.
"If you think for some strategic reasoning that something should originate in the Senate," Heller wrote to Reid, "then it should address the root of the issue that is plaguing our gaming industry in Nevada, namely the Wire Act."
"UIGEA neither legalized nor made unlawful Internet gambling."
Senator Reid has been trying to pass an online poker bill for more than two years, and it was thought that the bid he and Senator Kyl wrote up was the best chance at such a law being implemented. It now appears however that time is running out to get any bill passed, although Reid is apparently poised to carry on.
"Sen. Reid is not going to abandon the fight, and will continue to seek bipartisan support to legalize online poker that is important to Nevada." his spokesperson said.