A hearing is scheduled at the Rayburn House Office Building in room 2123 at 10:30 a.m. EDT with the main focus of the hearing set on "Internet Gaming: Is There a Safe Bet?" Poker Players Alliance chairman Alfonse D'Amato is going to be a witness at the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
The hearing will give committee members a learning opportunity with a general discussion on how internet poker can be regulated and isn't geared around Rep. Joe Barton's online poker bill - although Barton is a member of the subcommittee.
"I think there are different stakeholders who are not necessarily on board with Barton's bill and would like to have a general discussion on how Internet poker can be regulated," said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. "It will be a learning opportunity for the committee members to get their heads around an issue without confusing specific legislation. We think it will be good for building momentum."
According to Pappas, D'Amato will present what players are looking for with federal legislation - ensuring a separate trust account is kept with players' funds; game fairness; and operators’ ability to pay all just debts.
"Given the committee's interest in player protections, I think it is appropriate that someone from the PPA testifies," Pappas said. "It's certainly a big moment for the organization and we're very excited that D'Amato has been invited."
Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), is the subcommittee chairwoman. She has been known as being an opponent of federally legislated online poker and she comes from Palm Springs, an area where tribal interests in gaming are extremely prominent.
The subcommittee is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Barney Frank submitted Internet gambling bills in the past that went before the full Financial Services Committee in the past. Pappas has explained that the normal process is to go through a subcommittee but with Frank being chairman of the full committee it was submitted directly. Due to the hearing not being held on a specific bill, it could mean the subcommittee may have to hold another hearing, markup on Barton's bill, and then it would go in front of the full Energy and Commerce Committee.
"I am pleased that Chairman Bono Mack is holding a hearing on the important issue of Internet gaming," Barton said in a statement. "It's a first step to showing why the current law is a lose-lose for everyone — the public, the taxpayer, the banking industry, and the people who want to play online poker openly and honestly on the Internet. I look forward to an open exchange of ideas."
The PPA - and PokerWorks - are asking all poker players and concerned citizens to use Facebook and Twitter to send messages to subcommittee members regarding online poker before the hearing. If you are a constituent of subcommittee members, sending phone calls and emails would have great impact.