Staffers for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are circulating a bill to legalize poker playing on the Internet that's backed by large casino interests.

The Nevada casino companies pushing the measure were among the Democrat's biggest donors during his fierce re-election fight. They argue the bill would provide consumer protection for poker players and would provide some tax revenue for federal and state governments.

On Wednesday, three Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Mr. Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) opposing any efforts to pass Internet poker legislation during the lame-duck session.

"Congress should not take advantage of the young, the weak and the vulnerable in the name of new revenues to cover more government spending," Rep. Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), the ranking Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee and others wrote.
According to the draft of the bill reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Reid's office is considering language that would allow only existing casinos, horse tracks and slot-machine makers to operate online poker websites for the first two years after the bill passes, which could limit the ability of other companies to enter the market.

The bill would also outsource oversight to state regulators, another move supported by existing casinos that don't want to see the federal government become overly involved in regulating their industry.

A rather ironic reversal of roles here. The young, weak and vulnerable sacrificed in the name of new revenues. Indeed.