Jon Kyl was born in 1942 in Nebraska. His father, John Henry Kyl, was a Republican congressman from Iowa. After receiving his bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Arizona, Kyl worked in Phoenix, Arizona as a lawyer and lobbyist.
Kyl married his high school sweetheart Caryll Collins in 1964. The couple has two children, as well as several grandchildren.
Kyl served in the US House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995 and then went on to serve in the US Senate. During Kyl’s time in the Senate, he served on the Judiciary Committee, Finance Committee and Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. He held several leadership roles in the Senate, eventually being named Minority Whip in 2007.
Kyl was very influential during his 26 years in Congress. Kyl helped write several key pieces of legislature including the Crime Victims’ Rights Act and the Patriot Act. He was so influential that in 2010 Time magazine recognized Kyl as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
When it comes to the online gambling industry, Kyl has been one of its most staunch opponents. Kyl argued that online gambling leads to “possible addiction and, in turn, to bankruptcy, crime and suicide.” Kyl has been pushing for a federal ban on online gambling since as far back as 1998.
In 2006 Kyl, along with Congressman Jim Leach, supported the push of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The act “prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.”
By tacking the UIGEA onto the SAFE Port Act, a bill aimed at securing US ports, he was able to get the bill passed just before Congress adjourned for the 2006 elections — reportedly before the Senate-House Conference Committee even has a chance to read it.
President Bush signed the SAFE Port Act into law at the end of his term in 2006. Under the Obama Administration, the Treasury Department delayed implementation of the UIGEA. Kyl ‘s response to the administration’s delay was blocking President Obama’s nominations to the Treasury Department. His hold on the Treasury appointments prevented six officials from getting to work to fix the countries financial crisis. Once it was implemented, UIGEA forced several large and publically-traded poker sites were to close down their US operations.
In 2012 Kyl teamed up with Senator Harry Reid to form a bill that would lift the ban on online poker. For Kyl it was a compromise: online poker would be legalized and regulated, while the UIGEA as it relates to other forms of online betting would be strengthened. The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2012, commonly known as the Reid/Kyl bill never made it through Congress’s lame-duck session.
In 2011 a comment regarding Planned Parenthood landed Kyl in the center of controversy. Kyl stated on the Senate floor that abortions are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” Planned Parenthood responded by stating that their services were just 3% abortion-related, with contraception, testing, and treatment being 90% of what it does. Although Planned Parenthood’s numbers are self-reported, it was clear that Kyl had greatly overstated Planned Parenthood’s proportion of abortion-related services. A spokesperson for the senator later claimed that his comment “was not intended to be a factual statement.”
Kyl held the position of Senate Minority Whip until he retired in 2013. After retiring from Congress, Kyl joined lobbying group Covington & Burling. Although bound by ethic laws to refrain from lobbying the government for at least 2 years, Kyl can still act in a managerial role in the firm until that time. One thing is for sure – as one of the most anti-online gambling lawmakers in US history, Kyl’s retirement left the online gambling industry and online poker lovers everywhere breathing a sigh of relief.