PPA Chairman issues half-year report

Annie Duke
Annie Duke's testimony about online poker was one of the PPA's highlights for the second half of 2007.

The fight for poker is gaining momentum, according to the Poker Players Alliance chairman. Alfonse D'Amato released a letter recently talking about what the organization has achieved this year.

In his statement, D'Amato said the PPA has become more involved in the fight for poker players' rights at the state level along with its work at the federal level. The organization has also received national media coverage for its efforts.

"Our Washington Fly-In and policy conference was a huge success, and we made a significant impression on Congress and the media," D'Amato averred.

"In just two days of lobbying, the 'fly-in' participants met with nearly 50 members of the U.S. House and Senate. Several of our meetings resulted in commitments of support and co-sponsorship of H.R. 2046 and H.R. 2610."

H.R. 2046 is Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act. If passed, the act will legalize online gambling in the United States and set up a framework for regulating and licensing the industry in the nation.

H.R. 2610 is Robert Wexler's bill seeking to make an exception for games of skill such as poker in the current laws that outlaw online gambling.

The IGREA is now up to 44 co-sponsors, and Wexler's bill has 20 co-sponsors.

The Fly-In also resulted in Rep. John Conyers, House Judiciary Committee chairman, calling a hearing to discuss Internet gaming. Annie Duke, a PPA representative and pro poker player, testified on behalf of players, helping emphasize a person's right to play poker.

Joining Duke to talk about the online gambling situation were Rep. Shelley Berkley, who also has a bill introduced in the House calling for a study of online gambling, as well as New York University School of Law Professor Joseph H.H. Weiler.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the force behind the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last year, spoke against online gambling during the hearing. His sentiments were echoed by the testimony of Thomas E. McClusky, Family Research Council vice president of government affairs.

Since then, the PPA has also been focusing fight for players' rights more at the state level.

"At the state level, when unjust laws or campaigns are introduced against poker players, individual players across the country are often the first to hear about them," D'Amato said. "Our PPA State Directors in Massachusetts, Kentucky and Washington State have successfully brought attention to such events and continue to fight for America's card game."

In Massachusetts, the governor introduced a bill that would allow casinos to open in the state. However, part of the bill criminalized online gambling in the process.

PPA Massachusetts Representative Randy Casonguay helped organize the delivery of more than 1,700 letters to the state reps, state senators and governor in less than a week, said D'Amato.

In Kentucky, Rich Muny led an effort against an anti-poker governor with calls, letters and e-mails from PPA members.

PPA Washington Representative Lee Rousso is also continuing his fight in Washington where he has filed a lawsuit against the state for its ban on online gambling.

Support for poker came from the celebrity realm as well recently with Drew Carey and Reason TV producing a video about the police raid of a poker game at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1837 in Dallas.

Carey highlights the importance of state poker rights in the video segment. According to D'Amato, the segment came out in time for the December trial of those arrested in the raid.

"Now is a critical time to build on the momentum and coverage of our successful D.C. Fly-In, House Judiciary hearing on Internet gaming, and state initiatives, and to increase grassroots activism at the state level for 2008," D'Amato stated.

D'Amato also took time to encourage people to contact their PPA state representatives to get involved in the next year, and he introduced the new manager of membership relations, Bryan Spadaro.

"We are very excited to have Bryan as a part of our growing team," D'Amato said. "With prior D.C. experience, Bryan brings a passion for both politics and poker."

For more information about the PPA and its initiatives, visit PokerPlayersAlliance.org.

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