Senate Indian Affairs Committee to talk online gambling

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is set to hold a hearing Thursday afternoon to discuss what is at stake for Indian tribes over the future of Internet gaming.

The Poker Player’s Alliance (PPA) has been emailing listserv members to petition Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken, one of the eight Democrats on the 14-member committee.

“The PPA believes that momentum is behind our efforts to license and regulate online poker in 2011 and the fact that the U.S. Senate will be holding a hearing on the future of online poker codifies our belief,” read the letter.

Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the PPA, will testify during the proceedings. Also scheduled to testify on behalf of the PPA is PPA Executive Director John Pappas.

“We are proud to announce that PPA chairman former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato will testify before the committee that the PPA respects the sovereignty of Indian tribes and believes that they have an important role in any federal licensing and regulation bill,” the letter continued.

Las Vegas Company Caesar’s Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker, will be represented through the PPA.

Caesars, currently $22.5 billion in debt, stands to benefit tremendously from the revenues that would result from the federal legalization of online gambling. Strapped for cash, Caesars announced on Tuesday renewed plans to move towards an initial public offering. Caesars is also the only U.S. land-based casino that owns an online gaming business.

Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, one of many opponents of legalizing online gambling, has voiced concerned that such legislation would cut drastically into state revenues used for services like education.

Last year, Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s federal online gambling legislation was viewed by many as a way for him to pay back the big Las Vegas casinos that were among the top contributors to his re-election campaign.

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