Harry Reid

Harry Reid’s Heel Transformation Continues

(Author’s Note: The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of FlushDraw.net or its owners.)

In December, I called United States Senator Harry Reid (D – Nev.) “just another politician,” as after years of fighting for online poker, he turned around and said he would support Sheldon Adelson’s attempted ban on internet gambling in 2015. Now that he is approaching retirement, now might be a good time to re-evaluate my statement…ok, yep, he’s still just another politician.

For years, Senator Reid appeared to try to get pro-online poker legislation passed in the Senate, but always came up way short.  Now, he’s basically like, “Meh, oh well. Fuck it.”

In a recent interview with Nevada Public Radio, KNPR, Senator Reid said he is all for Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill, introduced into the House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah):

I believe that online gaming is not good for our country. I’ve said that. And Lindsey Graham is a sponsor of that legislation. He’s from South Carolina and I have not stood in his way at all. I talked to him last night, as an example. He said he believes it should start in the House – I agree with him – and if it passes the House, we’re going to give it a good, hard try in the Senate to get it done.

So he has gone from being a champion of online poker to saying “we’re” going to try for a blanket ban of all online gambling in the United States, even gambling already active in the state he represents.

When the interviewer made sure listeners and Senator Reid understood that Adelson’s bill (and make no mistake, RAWA is the billionaire casino mogul’s bill) would ban ALL online gambling, including the poker that Reid claimed he fought so hard for, Reid essentially responded with a vocal shrug, saying, “Well, we’ll see what the legislation does.”

“I think for the state of Nevada, online gaming is not the direction I think we should go,” Reid added.

He then went on to explain how he used to be the Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, when Nevada was the only state that had legalized gambling. Explaining part of his opposition to online gambling, he said, “I’m a guy for strong controls and I think it’s not being controlled very well, especially in Indian country.”

This is just idiotic. In January, New Jersey reported that during the first year of legalized online gambling in the state, there was no evidence of even a single minor being able to create an account on a site. Neither Nevada nor Delaware have reported any sorts of significant problems when it comes to “controls,” either. Naturally, things are going to happen that we don’t want to happen – that’s the nature of life – but that’s what regulations are for. And in all three states, any time there has been any sort of minor issue, it was resolved. Regulations and controls have worked.

And besides, it now sounds like Harry Reid’s idea of better controls is to eliminate them all together. This makes no sense at all and is logic only a liar or simpleton would use. He and other opponents of online gambling just don’t seem to understand that people who want to gamble on the internet will find ways to do it and without regulation, they will not be properly protected from unethical operators, players who want to cheat them out of their money, or even, in the case of problem gamblers, themselves. Legalizing and regulation online poker or online gambling as a whole does not equate to encouraging Americans to fritter their life savings away on the virtual felts. It is a way to make sure that those who do want to participate, whether it is for pennies or for thousands of dollars a hand, can play in an environment in which the only thing they have to worry about is whether or not they should call their opponent’s river bet.

This is not the first time that Harry Reid has spoken out against online gambling after supporting the online poker community for so long. In December, he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

I think the proliferation of gambling on the Internet is not good for our country. I think it is an invitation to crime. I think it is hard to control for crime when you’ve got brick-and-mortar places, let alone something up in the sky someplace, and it is very bad for children.

If there is a chance to (legalize) poker, I will do that, but I am not for the Wire Act.


Sheldon Adelson

So, yes, he was still open to legalized online poker, but he certainly was not fighting hard for it anymore. And then there was this: “Sheldon Adelson and I have been friends for a long time but on politics he and I don’t agree, so we don’t do politics. I’m glad he joined my position (on Internet gambling), but no, there was nothing.”

It’s just incredible. The guy who was such a proponent for poker was now happy that Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire businessman who is trying to eliminate online gambling completely in the U.S. only out of a sense of misguided self-interest, has moved over to his side. Reid isn’t joining Adelson’s cause, Adelson is joining his.

It’s just so disappointing. All I can do is shake my head and vent on Flushdraw.


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