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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Accomplishments of the PPA During National Poker Week

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The Poker Players Alliance announced it in June of 2009 and set out to accomplish quite a bit during National Poker Week. Not only was there to be an online poker petition delivered to President Barack Obama, but PPA state directors and poker pros planned to make a trip to Washington, D.C. between July 19 and 25 to lobby Congress for their support on pro-poker legislation. That week has now passed, and the PPA is calling it a rousing success.

The week started on a high note when PPA Chairman and former Senator Alfonse D’Amato went on the Howard Stern show on the morning of July 20, at which time Stern declared that he became a member of the PPA. D’Amato responded with a press release, which stated: “I can’t think of a more fitting way to kick off National Poker Week than having my friend, Howard Stern, become a member of the PPA. I think him for having me on his show this morning and for supporting the PPA’s efforts to protect the freedom of American citizens to play the great game of poker at the time and place of their choosing - a freedom Congress voted to take away… With Howard Stern as a member of the PPA, it shows Congress and the public that protecting internet poker is about more than just poker - it’s about protecting internet freedom and personal responsibility.”

Another highlight of the week came when the PPA hosted a charity tournament to benefit the USO on Tuesday, July 21. The event was held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill and was attended by about 30 wounded armed service veterans, as well as members of Congress like Pete King of New York, Xavier Becerra of California, and Shelley Berkley of Nevada. Many poker pros were also in attendance, such as Greg Raymer, Andy Bloch, Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Linda Johnson, and Dennis Phillips. Celebrity and poker player Montel Williams also contributed and took a seat in the tournament.

The PPA presented an initial check to the USO for $25,000, and as the night went on, an additional $10,000 was raised through donations and tournament rebuys. All of this went to benefit the Washington, D.C. Metro USO, which provides programs and services for wounded warriors and their families after they receive treatment at local medical centers.

PPA Executive Director John Pappas noted, “The Poker Players Alliance is proud to support USO-Metro and all they do for recovering servicemen and women and their families. It was our honor to host the wounded warriors, and we are grateful to the members of Congress and professional players who came out to the tournament to show their support.” USO-Metro President Elaine Rogers added, “We are thankful to the PPA for their generous donation and a great event.”

The majority of the week consisted of poker pros, 33 PPA state directors, more than 17 other PPA members, and lobbying firms working together to speak to members of Congress and/or their staffers about the current Barney Frank legislation and upcoming Senate bill to be introduced by Senator Menendez, the latter of which will be similar to his 2008 legislation that called specifically for the regulation of poker as a game of skill. According to the PPA, more than 100 such meetings were held. In addition, a briefing hosted in part by the PPA on Monday to discuss the benefits of such legislation was attended by 70 Congressional staffers and interested parties.

Outside of Washington, the poker community boasted of successes of its own. The Poker Petition delivered to President Obama contained 375,769 virtual signatures. And poker enthusiasts around the United States sent nearly 200,000 letters and e-mails to members of Congress during National Poker Week. Those activities complimented three print ads that the PPA pushed in an online and print advertising campaign to let Congress know that poker should be an American freedom, and the only politics involved should involve licensing and regulation. Despite Capitol Hill’s focus on extremely pressing issues like health care reform and America’s recession, members of Congress did receive a loud and clear message from their constituents: Poker is important, and the rights of players must be protected.

D’Amato commented on the week of poker-centric activities: “From the more than 100 meetings with members and staff to the charity tournament that raised $35,000 for our wounded warriors, I’d say National Poker Week was a rousing success. Congress is preparing for hearings this fall on the licensing and regulation of the game we love, so I urge all PPA members to continue this activism and enthusiasm so our elected officials can take their marching orders and fight to protect our game.”

It is not to late to make your voice heard, and as D’Amato mentioned, our message must remain strong as the weeks lead up to legislative hearings scheduled for September. Visit the PPA website to get in touch with members of Congress, the President of the United States, and local officials to send messages of support for pro-poker legislation.

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