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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

PPA to Take on NFL With Upcoming Poker Legislation

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The contenders in the battle have announced themselves in various forms, though the focus of the fight has not yet even been formally put on the table. It is legislation that looks to legalize and regulate online gaming in the United States, and since Rep. Barney Frank has been promising its introduction to Congress this spring, supporters as well as the opposition have been lining up their funds and lobbying objectives in order to fight it out on Capitol Hill.

Chairman Frank of the House Financial Services Committee started the year with promises to repeal the UIGEA with the reintroduction of his pro-gaming legislation, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2046) in the first few months of this year. His most recent statements indicate that the legislation will be put forward in the first few days of May. At the April 28 Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit, Frank told the audience, “We’ll be introducing it next week, and I plan to move on it.”

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has been well aware of the news, as has been the mainstream media, for months, thus giving the organization time to line up its lobbying efforts. Along with the group’s chairman, former Senator Alfonse D’Amato, staying on the front lines of the media about the issue, the PPA has also garnered $3 million with which to pursue its lobbying efforts in Congress once the Frank bill is introduced. A significant portion of those funds came from the Interactive Gaming Council of Canada, a trade association that represents numerous online gaming websites, while other monies are available to the PPA from its million-plus member base.

But on the opposite side of the fight will be an unlikely foe in the National Football League. The NFL has been on the side of anti-gaming legislation since its support of the UIGEA, but when online gaming proponents like Rep. Frank discussed efforts to repeal the law and introduce pro-gaming legislation, the NFL hired a lobbyist. That process began in 2008, along with the organization of a political action committee to raise campaign donations for their cause.

What would prompt the NFL to take the side of the Christian Coalition in the fight to stop online gaming in the United States? The reason given by the NFL is that legalized gaming would be a threat to the “integrity of our game.” Further, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Associated Press that the NFL wants to prevent any wagering on its football games. “We understand that illegal gambling currently occurs, but there is little we can do about that,” he said. “However, we can exercise our right to oppose internet betting on our games… Gambling on our games - online or off line - threatens the integrity of our games and all the values they represent.”

Instead of simply banning betting on their games or fighting for a carve-out in the new Frank bill, the NFL plans to fight the upcoming legislation wholeheartedly. And the organization may have the assistance of other sports leagues like the NCAA, NBA, and NHL, who sided with the NFL during the successful attempt to pass the UIGEA in 2006.

However, D’Amato notes that the upcoming legislation is “a cause for personal choice and freedom that I’ve always thought epitomizes what this country’s about.” Further, the PPA Chairman claims that Frank will have the support of Democrats and Republicans alike for his bill. As D’Amato wrote in The Hill publication recently, “Liberals and conservatives in and out of Congress are opposed to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act… Now is the time to do what’s right for all interested parties, not based on party politics. That means protecting internet freedom and the public interest through taxation, licensing and regulation - not prohibition.”

The poker community anxiously awaits the Frank bill that is likely to be introduced in the coming days. And organizations like the PPA are ready to take on the NFL in the fight for online gaming rights.

To make your voice heard to members of Congress, visit the Poker Players Alliance website or that of the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative.

Editors Note:  You may believe the UIGEA is a good thing and there to protect you. From what? Having choices? Your personal freedoms? Think again! Visit the PPA now and fight for your right to play online poker. It's not simply about poker, it's about the government placing you in a box with no choices.

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