The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today reacted with disgust to reports regarding a surreptitious move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to legalize online gambling for just poker. The attempt is an abuse of the legislative process to benefit one of Sen. Reid’s largest campaign contributors, Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., in Las Vegas.
The legalization of online gambling has been controversial. In fact, Sen. Reid himself previously opposed the idea. Earlier this year, however, the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on the legalization of online gambling, ultimately approving legislation to regulate it. The Senate has not acted on the issue. Both Politico and The Wall Street Journal have reported on Reid’s attempts to attach language to the tax bill that would legalize only online poker, which would benefit casinos in the state of Nevada disproportionately, and Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. in particular, since the company owns the World Series of Poker.
“This latest episode of congressional chicanery should be called Harry Plotter and the Senate Chamber of Secrets, since the Majority Leader apparently views the legislative process and the Senate itself as a venue to reward his political allies,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Whether one supports the legalization of online gambling or not, an online gambling bill had a thorough vetting in the House Financial Services Committee and was approved. Now, Sen. Reid is trying to bypass the bill and slip in a provision that will be an early Christmas gift to his pals at Harrah’s. The Senate should reject this outrageous proposal.”
During Sen. Reid’s beleaguered senate campaign, according to Politico, “The company, through its employees and political action committee, contributed $83,000 to Reid’s reelection campaign, making it his fourth most generous supporter, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.” The Wall Street Journal stated that the language that Sen. Reid is trying to graft onto the tax bill “could limit the ability of other companies to enter the market.”
It is common knowledge in Las Vegas that Harrahs bused its on duty employees, under close supervision, to the polls and intimidated them to vote for Reid. MGM Mirage did the same with its employees. Harrahs & MGM properties dominate the Las Vegas strip.
“Taxpayers already believe that Congress is rigged. This latest example of blatant self-dealing confirms their suspicions. The midterm elections were an unambiguous message that this kind of abuse of power needs to stop,” concluded Schatz. “Apparently, Sen. Reid just didn’t hear that message over the noise of the slot machines that helped give him an election windfall.”
CCAGW is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
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