Phillips: “The Politicians That Oppose Online Poker, Play Poker”

Dennis Phillips IMG 7528

Dennis Phillips didn’t win the 2008 Main Event but he captured the attention of poker fans around the world.

The 53-year-old amateur poker player qualified for the Main Event in a $200 satellite in St. Louis and ended up finishing third for $4.5 million.

Since then he became a PokerStars sponsored pro for a period of time and promoted poker around the globe.

These days he’s hoping for online poker to finally become widely regulated in the USA.

“I’m extremely optimistic about online poker in the USA,” he said while on break from the 2016 WSOP Main Event.

“There are 17 states that have some sort of some sort interaction going on within the legislature. There’s a couple of them that look like they could actually crack through here very quickly.”

Legal Poker in New York, Pennsylvania

Dennis Phillips IMG 7532
Dennis Phillips

Phillips is particularly bullish about the efforts to legalize the game in New York and Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania’s got movement and New York has movement,” he said.

“If the Pechanga [Band] in California could ever get their stuff together we would have it there. I’m very optimistic though. The PPA has worked hard and I think there will eventually be something there.”

Last year Phillips told PokerListings he was confident there would be legal online poker in California in 2018 but he’s backpedalling a tiny bit on that claim this year.

“I’m still optimistic about poker in California but I don’t know about 2018,” he said.

“That was the date I picked almost a year ago. I don’t know anymore. I hope so. It should be there by 2018. It really should be there.”

Phillips: “Everyone Plays Poker Now”

Phillips is convinced there has already been a widespread transformation in the poker world that should help bring legal online poker to the USA.

“We’ve already changed the image of a poker player somewhat,” he said.

Dennis Phillips
Dennis Phillips at the final table in 2008.

“Now it can be your next door neighbor or your grandmother, your janitor or your boss. A poker player can be anybody. The old days with the guys smoking cigars in the backroom, it’s just gone. Everybody plays poker and I think everyone realizes that.”

If everyone is playing poker, why does it take so long to actually push through legislation? It’s an issue that frustrates Phillips.

“What really gripes the hell out of me is that a lot of the politicians that have been opposing [online poker] actually play poker,” he said.

“I know that. I’ve played with some of them. It really bugs the heck out of me.”

Phillips actually played less poker this year than he has in any one of the last 10 years but he remains a huge fan of the game.

“It’s a fun sport,” he said.

“Anybody can play. Anybody can enjoy and anyone can get halfway decent. Hopefully it will come forward. We’ll see what happens.”

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