PPA offers hope, plan of attack

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has issued a letter to its supporters urging them to continue the fight for online poker and offering guidelines on how to go about campaigning for the rights of online poker players in the United States.

Calling the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in U.S. Congress Sept. 30 a "bad beat," the PPA slammed the legislation's process through the Houses of Congress as a back room deal and accused Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R - Tenn.) of political strong-arming and discouraging public debate on the bill.

PPA president Michael Bolcerek, who wrote the letter, encourages players to continue to demand that poker receive separate treatment from other forms of gambling addressed in the legislation.

"[Poker] is a game of skill, where performance is merited, and a community game, where the house is not your competition. These are real and significant differences. Our desire is to achieve the same type of exemption from legislation that other interests have received (horseracing, lotteries, and fantasy sports)," says Bolcerek.

"We will continue to push forward to obtain this separate treatment when Congress comes back from the elections and into the next legislative session. Between now and when the new bill becomes effective (3 to 6 months) poker has an opportunity to achieve the same exemption. This is our most immediate short-term goal."

Bolcerek goes on to address the issues of licensing, regulation and taxation, calling these measures the best solution for both the federal government and the American poker playing public.

"Prohibition of online poker will only drive the game underground and build distrust and misunderstanding amongst the 70 million Americans who enjoy the great game of poker," Bolcerek says.

In the summer of 2006, the PPA commissioned a study of the potential federal tax revenue that could be raised through regulation, a whopping $3.3 billion annually. The PPA's economic analysis was welcomed by members of Congress, and the nonprofit organization has vowed to continue to drive this agenda with receptive politicians.

"I spent the better part of the year engaging members of the House and Senate about the idea of regulating Internet poker. This has raised interest from both Democrats and Republicans alike. There has even been legislation introduced that seeks to establish a Congressional commission that would examine the best way to regulate this industry."

The PPA is urging all of its members to register to vote in the upcoming state and federal elections, the first of which is scheduled to take place on Nov. 7, 2006. A link is provided at PPA's Web site, www.pokerplayersalliance.org, for those players who are not yet registered voters.

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