12/17/2012 2:46PM

U.S. Senator drops push for online poker legalization this year


U.S. Sen. Harry Reid will no longer pursue federal legislation that would legalize online poker during this year’s lame-duck session, an official from the senator’s office told a Las Vegas newspaper.

David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the senator had “run out of time” to pursue the legislation, which was being pushed by a lobbying group supported by most of the largest casino companies in the United States, poker interests, and several racing-related companies, including Churchill Downs. Supporters of the legislation had hoped to gather support for passage of the bill in the lame-duck session after negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff concluded, but those talks remain open with one week left before the Christmas holiday.

“Our goal is to definitely try again next year, but Senator Reid’s feeling is that after a while there comes a time when you’ve lost momentum, you’ve lost the consensus you’ve built,” Krone said.

Draft legislation circulated by supporters of a bill would have allowed states to legalize online poker for their citizens. Churchill, which runs the largest account-wagering company in the United States, has supported the efforts because of its ambitions to become a major player in online gambling.

Racing currently enjoys the only exception to a federal law banning online gambling in the United States.