Harry Reid is as mysterious as the Sphinx when it comes to predicting his ultimate stance on online casino regulation.

Play Now at Rome Casino Now that Barney Frank’s measure proposing regulation of online casinos has gathered some momentum in the House, observers are wondering how the bill may fare in the Senate. The uncertainty of which way that chamber will turn on Internet gambling lies directly at the feet of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“He’s the linchpin,” Representative Shelley Berkley, from Reid’s home state of Nevada, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “He will be the decider when it comes to Internet gaming.”

On the surface, it might seem obvious that Reid would be on the side of opening the online gambling market and allowing the licensing of Internet poker sites and online gambling operators. Like Reid, Frank is a powerful member of the Democratic Party, and Reid certainly has no desire to aid Spencer Bachus and the ultra-conservative right in defeating H.R. 2267.

But Reid has long relied heavily on the support of the giant casino companies in Las Vegas, a group divided on the subject of online casinos. Until recently, the land casinos were united behind Steve Wynn and his insistence on continuing the ill-designed UIGEA ban.

Lately, some operators, led by Harrah’s, have altered their position, preparing themselves to adapt to regulated online gambling. The shift has left the American Gaming Association adopting an officially neutral stance.

While Berkley told the paper she sees Reid softening on the issue of Internet casinos, the hardened politician finds himself in a fight for his political life. Without a decisive order from the casino companies, Reid may take whichever side is most politically expedient with his constituents to ensure his re-election.

This could mean the entire US online casino policy for years to come may be decided by Nevada voters’ feelings on whether Internet gambling will increase or decrease their unemployment rate.

Published on August 9, 2010 by MattMiller