Poker Champion Headed to US Senate?

Mass. governor to decide today if Barney Frank will hold John Kerry seat

by , Jan 30, 2013 | 6:03 am

barney-frank-1John Kerry got confirmed as the next US Secretary of State yesterday, which means he steps down from his role as senator from Massachusetts. That also means there’s a good chance that retired Rep. Barney Frank, one of the first Beltway champions of licensed and regulated online poker, could take the role.

A special election during the 4th week of the WSOP will decide Kerry’s full-time replacement, but Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick gets to appoint a stand-in in the interim — which has Frank, who just ended his career as a 16-term Congressman a few weeks ago, ready to come out of retirement.

Though no guarantees, if anything, Frank could prove a strong ally for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid … at least with Frank, he wouldn’t have to get him up to speed on the important issues and/or online poker.

As Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank, together with out-of-the-box GOP hero Rep. Ron Paul, created bi-partisan legislation that was set to undo the UIGEA back in ’08 … but a committee vote on a key amendment that resulted in a surprising tie killed a Republican-assisted effort to slip it into some bank relief. It was online poker’s first big loss in Congress (post-UIGEA), and for many new Pokeraticos, our introduction to lower-level political dirty tricks.

Frank, perhaps curiously, was not a huge fan of “poker only” legislation that he would find himself pushing. The anti-UIGEA stuff he originally put out there with Paul was built on prinicipals of personal freedom, consumer protections, and keeping government off your computer … and if they really believed all that, Frank argued, along with their own estimates online gaming’s ability to generate $40 billion over 10 years … then why limit it to poker, leaving slot players and sports bettors to fend for themselves?

Gov. Patrick says he will announce today who’ll get the temporary job. And he’s already suggesting how Frank might not be the guy. But likewise, Frank’s also got potentially better things to do, like playing a Senator in “Fiorello”, which you may recall is the Broadway musical that pays homage to the longtime, ever-dynamic relationship between poker and politics.