Now-President Barack Obama promised a transparent and interactive administration if elected to office. And upon his election in November of 2008, his transition team set about interacting with the American people by establishing the Citizen’s Briefing Book, a compilation of ideas put forth and voted on by citizens, to be later organized into a book forwarded to the White House. Now that the book is complete and published, it seems that poker players and game enthusiasts were successful in bringing the issue of online poker to the forefront of Obama Administration discussions.
The White House Citizen’s Briefing Book put no limits on subject matter, only that people could vote once on any particular entry and publicize it in any way they chose to increase the voting. There was one entry that came to the attention of poker players early on, and it was titled “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker." Aaron Huertas of Washington, D.C. posted it, and it turned out that 46,890 players voted on it. It read, in full:
“Let online poker players in the United States play legally and without fear of prosecution. Reform the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to exempt poker, a game of skill, from the law. Boost the economy by letting American companies and American players make money and pay taxes instead of sending online poker businesses offshore. Protect online poker players by regulating the industry to ensure that no one is ever cheated.”
The massive number of votes not only put the issue at 11th on the entire list of policy ideas submitted by the public, but it pushed it to the very top of the technology category. Being the number one issue on that particular list ensures that the White House will look at the issue, the argument, and consider action that has been requested by the people. In fact, with the recent introduction of Rep. Barney Frank’s online gaming regulation legislation, it will be difficult to ignore an issue that the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has been discussing for months and hopes to bring to committee in the coming weeks and months.
While the Obama Administration could effectively and accurately tell Frank and others that there are more important issues, such as the economy and health care, that require his immediate attention, it will be more difficult to ignore the voices of the American people that were requested by the administration itself. It is clear that there is a strong contingent of the American public that desires the freedom to be able to play online poker in the privacy of their homes, and the many forces that have come together of late to put a focus on the issue cannot be ignored.
Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas commented on the Citizen’s Briefing Book results: “Poker players around the country are speaking with one voice to protect the game they love, and the White House is hearing that message. The popularity of online poker continues to grow, and the fact that poker is the top technology issue - and the 11th issue overall - proves that this is not a niche issue, but a national public policy that this Congress and this president should advance this year.”
In order to send a letter to President Obama and your members of Congress, visit the Poker Players Alliance website for easy access and pre-written correspondence. It is important that your voices be heard in Washington, D.C., and by those who were elected to represent your interests. As evidenced by the tremendous response to the Citizen’s Briefing Book, the voices of the masses will be heard.