Poker faceoff

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, who previously said his colleague Harry Reid should take the lead in getting an online poker bill enacted, backed away from that stance this week.

In a Sept. 10 letter, Heller objected to a deadline set by Reid and also said that “as discussed, it would be beneficial for the House of Representatives to first address this issue.”

Reid has lined up between 40 and 50 Democrats in the Senate to support legislation making online poker legal and had asked Republicans Heller and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona to bring 15 GOP senators on board. Because of Reid’s system of “imaginary filibusters” in which a single member of the Senate can impose a 60-vote threshold on the 100-member Senate, Reid and Heller need 60 votes to pass the measure. Reid also called on Heller to come up with the 15 votes by this week. This was “not a strategy we discussed,” Heller responded.

In the letter, Heller said he and Kyl have approached about half the Republicans but didn’t say what the results were. Reid’s office issued a statement: “Several months ago Senator Reid asked Senator Heller to secure Republican votes to help pass an Internet poker bill, and to date, Senator Heller has not been able to secure any support.

Reid and Heller are seeking to make online poker legal and all other forms of online gambling illegal to aid the Nevada casino industry.