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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

PPA Takes Lobbying Efforts to D.C. This Week

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The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) will host their first Policy Conference in Washington D.C. from October 22nd through 24th. The goal of the Fly-In is to join members of the PPA with poker pros to meet with members of Congress and encourage support of several pieces of pro-poker legislation.

PPA Chairman Senator Alfonse D'Amato and Executive Director John Pappas will be joined by Andy Bloch, Barry Greenstein, Howard Lederer, Chris Moneymaker, Vanessa Rousso, Chad Brown, and Victor Ramdin in their lobbying efforts. Members of the PPA who join the group in D.C. will receive a lobbying tutorial and be provided all of the necessary talking points before meeting with members of Congress. Said meetings have already been scheduled with more than 30 Congresspersons.

In an interview with Pappas two days before the Fly-In, he discussed the goals of the PPA's efforts in the nation's capitol this week:

"The idea of it actually sprung from some meetings we did during the August recess when Congress went back to the district offices. We had some very successful meetings - by us, I mean the PPA, some poker pros, and ‘average Joe' members of our Alliance who happened to be constituents. It worked so well that we thought we should duplicate this in a much larger way. On very short notice, we made an announcement to our membership targeting specific members of Congress and those districts.

"We want to do two things: Raise awareness of the issues with Congress, and demonstrate to Congress that there's a true constituency out there who cares passionately about their right to play poker, whether it's online or offline, at home or in a casino. And beyond that, we want to take this opportunity to educate Congress about recognizing poker as a game of skill and not lump it into other forms of gaming. We thought one of the best ways to do that is a Washington Fly-In. This is not a new idea; Fly-Ins happen every week when some group or another has their members coming out, but in terms of a grassroots organization and for the PPA, this is a major step."

When asked which bills will be pushed during the lobbying efforts, Pappas responded:

"We want to let Congress know that regulation is the better approach and that we should be looking to license and regulate this. And as much as the Barney Frank bill includes poker, we support it. There are other issues with that bill because it includes sports betting and other games that some in Congress aren't very comfortable with. To be honest, we don't care about those games; our only interest is in skill games like poker.

"The Wexler bill is an exemption bill that basically says that the UIGEA has exemptions for horse racing, fantasy sports, and lotteries; Congress should have made an exemption for poker and other skill games. It goes beyond that because it seeks to define poker as a game of skill and protect it under other federal laws that govern internet gaming like the Wire Act. That's really a key point, and it's something that the Barney Frank bill doesn't necessarily do but the Wexler bill will do.

"Some offices that we're meeting with are co-sponsors of one bill and not the other, so obviously we will talk about the other bill. Some offices are co-sponsors of both bills, and we're going to go thank them for it. And other offices are on neither bill and may be very apprehensive toward this, so we're hoping to educate them about why this is a good, more responsible approach than prohibition.

"There is a third ask in here because although the UIGEA passed last year, the rules have yet to be promulgated to enforce it. We're asking that Congress do what they can to make sure that the rules are written in a way that Internet poker is not affected."

Pappas also noted that there will be a high level of media attention on the PPA and its members this week in Washington D.C. Not only are articles scheduled to run in USA Today, The Washington Post, New York Times, L.A. Times, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press over the course of the week, there will be radio and television interviews taking place. In addition, they are targeting local Capitol Hill publications like Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call Magazine, both of which are ready daily by members of Congress and their staff.

The Policy Conference will conclude on the morning of October 24th with a forum to include speakers like Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School, Policy Analyst Sallie James of the Cato Institute, and Keith White of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

For more information, visit www.pokerplayersalliance.org .

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