He is the boorish uncle at the wedding.
He is the guest who won’t leave even as the dinner plates are being loaded into the dishwasher.
He is the cranky old guy at the blackjack table complaining about slow drink service.
He is Jon Kyl, and he just won’t go away fast enough.
The anti-gambling senator has wreaked havoc in his two terms representing the state of Arizona and now, as he heads down the home stretch before retiring to a hefty $122,000 annual pension next January, there are noises out of Washington that he wants to put another pin in the online gambling doll as he navigates through his final six months in office.
Kyl, reports say, is interested in a bill that would legalize online poker, a move that would in essence open the door to play in any state which doesn’t go through the trouble of enacting local legislation that would disallow it. Sounds reasonable. It would allow states to get the ball rolling on poker without dealing with uncomfortable state-wide political blowback. Rather than passing legislation to allow online poker, a federal act would force states that don’t want it to do all the heavy work to outlaw it. Nice.
But don’t forget that Kyl was one of the godfathers of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and with him, nothing is as it seems. Potential poker legislation supposedly would include language that would outlaw all other online casino games and perhaps also stiffen the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which limits single-game sports betting to Nevada books. A bill of this sort would certainly draw the support of poker-only lobbying groups, separating them from organizations who seek regulation of all forms on Internet gambling.
We contacted some of the key people currently lobbying Congress and none seem to think that any gambling legislation crafted by Kyl – or anyone else, for that matter – has a snowball’s chance of even getting a hearing, let alone being signed into law.
But that’s what backers of regulated online play were thinking six short years ago, when Kyl succeeded in passing the UIGEA in the dead of night. There were no caution flags when the repugnant language was attached to a bill on port security and presented to Congress only a few days before the mid-term elections. Few in Congress had even read the gambling language when they voted for the port security bill, which passed overwhelmingly.
Could Kyl be planning yet another Trojan horse-type attack on online gambling, attaching new Internet gambling restrictions to unrelated-but-hard-to-vote-against legislation? Covers.com
called Kyl’s office to ask just that, but the Republican’s press office wouldn’t comment. Instead, they referred us to Kyl’s website, which doesn’t include anything about online gambling.
Even if the website contained information about Kyl and online gambling, we’d have to take it with a bagful of salt. Because – and there’s really no delicate way to put this – in addition to being a sneak, Jon Kyl is a liar.
Even Jon Kyl knows it. And admits it.
Not too long ago, the senator took to the floor of the Senate and railed against Planned Parenthood, claiming (incorrectly) that 90 percent of the organization’s services are related to abortions. Except they aren’t. The number is about 3 percent, easily available through an Internet search. When Kyl was unable to figure out a way to account for the 87 percent discrepancy, his staff was forced to fall on the grenade, issuing a statement that Kyl didn’t intend for his remarks to be a factual statement. There is a word for an intentional statement that is not correct, and even Roger Clemens knows what that is
It is beyond depressing that Nevada’s Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who has been ineffective but generally supportive of federal gambling initiatives over the years, could be in cahoots with Kyl. Reid has been more than happy to carry the water for Las Vegas casino interests over the years and if he and Kyl have become bedfellows in a plan to limit online wagering, it probably means that that’s what the MGMs and Caesars want it. And it’s more than a bit curious that Las Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson is also making anti-online gambling noise just as the Kyl-Reid union surfaces.
Prof. I. Nelson Rose, considered the country’s No. 1 expert on legal gambling issues, addressed the odd relationship between the arch-conservative Kyl and the otherwise-liberal Reid:
“The only thing Reid and Kyl agree on,” Rose wrote last year in his popular blog Gambling and the Law, “is that Internet poker should be operated only by their constituents: Land-based casino companies (Reid) or Indian casino tribes (Kyl).”
Proving once again the old adage that all politics is local. Even when it comes to online gambling federal legislation.