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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

PPA Members Put Poker on the Agenda in D.C.

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The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) wrapped up its first Fly-In this week in Washington D.C. where members of the organization were taught the ins and outs of lobbying and actually met with members of Congress in support of pro-poker legislation. PPA Chairman Senator Alfonse D'Amato and Executive Director John Pappas led a policy conference and, along with PPA staff, organized the Capitol Hill lobbying efforts.

From October 22nd through 24th, close to 100 PPA members gathered in D.C. and met with nearly 50 members of Congress. Among them were numerous poker pros like Annie Duke, Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, and Chris Moneymaker. Reportedly, several of the meetings resulted in commitments to co-sponsor H.R. 2046 (Barney Frank's bill) and H.R. 2610 (Robert Wexler's bill), both currently awaiting consideration in committee. Eight members of Congress and various staffers also attended the PPA's Capitol Hill reception, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers.

Pappas noted in a message on the PPA website: "By all accounts the Washington Fly-In and policy conference was a huge success and we made a significant impression on Congress and the media... We were armed with the message that poker is a game of skill which should be regulated, not prohibited - and we successfully delivered that message... We also garnered tremendous media attention for our cause and through this effort we are showing Congress and the American people that there is a true and vocal and growing constituency that cares about poker."

Some of said media coverage included USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, New York Sun, Time, Boston Herald, and Associated Press. The UK Guardian even picked up the story overseas, and CNBC touched on the story on its television broadcast and spoke briefly with Lederer on air.

Wexler, who is still seeking more co-sponsors (which currently has 17) for his bill that would create exemptions in the UIGEA for games of skill like poker in addition to allowing gaming transactions to be taxed, was quoted in the L.A. Times as saying, "It's a national pastime. And the idea that we would prohibit adults from playing poker on the venue of the 21st century is illogical."

The three-day conference and lobbying effort ended with a forum entitled, "Poker: Public Policy, Politics, Skill and the Future of an American Tradition." Pappas noted that there was a clear consensus at the end of the panel discussion: "Poker players must become politically aware, register to vote and make their voices heard in debates and elections."

Currently there are over 800,000 members of the PPA, and the number continues to grow as poker players and enthusiasts become more aware that favorable government legislation is imperative to the future of the game. To that end, such legislation is necessary to save online poker and ensure that anti-gaming activists and extremists will not take away poker players' rights to play the game. A grassroots effort, with the help of the PPA, may be the only way to ensure poker's longevity and accessibility. In order to help, membership information is available, along with the tools necessary to contact members of Congress, at www.pokerplayersalliance.org .

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