A full 157 page draft of Harry Reid’s pro-online poker bill was released at Politico yesterday. The bill contains some curious wording that has American poker players biting their nails. On page 108 of the draft, the following language appears:
No qualified body may issue a license under this title before the date that is 15 months after the date of the enactment of this Act.
This caveat essentially means that there would be a 15 month “blackout period” following the passage of Reid’s bill. The reasoning for this 15 month delay between passage of bill and licensing of online poker rooms is provided a few lines below:
Qualified bodies shall, to the extent practicable while meeting the requirements and standards of this title, issue multiple licenses on the date that is 15 months after the date of the enactment of this Act in order to ensure a robust and competitive market for consumers and to prevent the first licensees from gaining an unfair competitive advantage.
This language could be in the bill because Reid wants to buy Harrah’s, MGM, & co. 15 months to create their own online poker platform so the existing online poker rooms don’t immediately flood the market thereby drowning the casino groups before they ever had a chance to become competitive.
What, exactly, a 15 month blackout period would mean for American poker players remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: the poker world’s excitement regarding this bill has tempered substantially since the full text of this bill was released. It is expected that the 111th Congress will conclude on Friday, December 17th. We’ll know sometime between now and then if this bill is to become law.