The fate of online poker could be decided in the next few days. Gaming-friendly Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been looking to fast-track a bill before Republicans take control of the House, and is apparently trying to add it to the latest tax cut package.

Tacking gambling legislation onto an unrelated bill is how Congress initially put the kibosh on online gaming in 2006, so we're playing the same games again, for better or worse.

The latest legislation would make only online poker legal, leaving out other games, at least for the time being. This would ease the pain to Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD) and Ameristar Casinos (Nasdaq: ASCA), which operate regional casinos and could lose local customers if a broader bill were passed.

Online poker would most likely be a boon to the big Las Vegas casinos that have stayed away from online gaming until now. MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM) and Harrah's, for example, have vast casino networks and brands that would be a major draw to the poker couch potato. Attracting enough customers to the high-margin online poker business could help them claw out of their respective mountains of debt. It would turn the investment thesis for MGM around with the stroke of a pen.

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) has dipped its toe in the online gaming waters, but I don't think it has the brands to compete with the likes of MGM, World Series of Poker, Caesar's Palace, and Bellagio. Still, it could provide at least a little boost, especially if it partnered with another operator.

We'll find out over the next few days how far Reid can push online poker. If he can get something through, I may just make a big bet on MGM Resorts. If a bill doesn't go through, it could be a long wait for investors and gamblers wanting to see poker go online.

Interested in reading more about MGM Resorts? Click here to add it to My Watchlist, and My Watchlist will find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.

More gambling Foolishness:

Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

Ameristar Casinos is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.