Reid tries to shove gambling legislation into tax cut deal

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to tack an online gambling legalization provision onto the Bush tax cut extension deal President Barack Obama made with Republicans.

Reid’s proposal might further complicate the tax cut extension deal, which progressives have furiously denounced as a gift to the GOP. Progressives are worried Obama’s willingness to deal with Republicans on the tax cuts foreshadows what his administration will do over the next two years.

According to Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, Reid is shopping the legislative add-on around Congress, trying to get other senators to sign onto it.

Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl said he plans to block Reid’s gambling proposal from being a part of the tax cut deal. Republicans have also pledged to hold-up votes until the tax cuts are passed, a plan Reid called “artificial roadblocks.”

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is opposed to Reid’s efforts as well, and released a statement expressing his disappointment with the Senate Majority Leader on Wednesday.

“In the final days of this legislative session, it appears Majority Leader Harry Reid is searching for a way to expand internet gambling in the United States.  I oppose any federal legislation that would force South Carolina to accept legalized gaming. Ten years ago, South Carolina eliminated video poker,” Graham said. “Those days are well behind us, and we must be vigilant in opposing any last-minute efforts in Washington aimed at forcing gambling on South Carolina.”

Reid was originally against legalizing onshore online gambling, but since his recent reelection in a brutal campaign against Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, he’s had a sudden change of heart. Las Vegas casino-operator MGM Resorts International was Reid’s biggest donor this year, having given the Senate Majority Leader $192,000. Another casino company, Harrah’s Entertainment, donated $83,000 to Reid this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Both major casinos also donated $375,000 combined to Patriot Majority, a group that spent more than $3 million in attack ads against Angle.

Other big casino donors Reid benefited from this past election cycle include Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming.