What can players do to fight for their rights?

The online poker industry seems to have gone into panic mode following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Many poker sites are exiting the U.S. market, leaving poker players scrambling to find new places to play and also wondering what they can do to fight the new law.

There are several ways players can join the battle against the UIGEA and have their voices heard in the matter. Some things you can do on your own are finding ways to contact your state's Congressmen and let them know your opinion of the bill.

At Congress.org, U.S. residents can look up who their representatives are and get their contact information such as phone numbers, addresses, and in some cases even an e-mail address.

When you contact your legislator, by whatever method, you should let them know that you're a voter in their state and that you oppose the UIGEA. Some other information you can add to make your point is that poker is a game of skill played by 70 million Americans and that prohibition hasn't worked in the past and Congress needs to instead seek to regulate online poker.

Another avenue of getting your voice heard is to sign a petition against the online gambling ban. So far Jim Perkins, a corporate/finance attorney in California, has managed to collect more than 11,000 signatures against the UIGEA through his online petition. You can sign the petition at www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?LOGNOW.

Eleven thousand signatures may sound like a lot, but when you think of the millions of people living in the United States who play poker online, or even the millions of Americans who believe that the UIGEA is an infringement on their personal rights, that number is just a tiny portion of what it should be. Not only can you help by signing the petition, you can help by spreading the word to other people.

These are just a handful of ways you can fight for your rights on your own. But it's rare that one person alone can make their voice heard in the U.S. government, so players need to take the next step and also join together in their efforts.

There are a few prominent groups out there fighting for players rights that players can join. The largest and most active at the moment is the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). This grassroots organization was started in Las Vegas to fight for poker players' rights and has grown to more than 100,000 members.

The PPA is active in Washington D.C. talking with senators and representatives. Their goal is to carve out an exemption in the new law for online poker because it is a game of skill rather than chance.

The National Right for Online Gaming was formed in the past few months to help fight against an online gambling ban. To begin its efforts, the nonprofit group has focused on informing and education online gamblers and non-gamblers alike about the effects of the online gambling ban. They also hope to take the fight more into the public domain with educational ad campaigns rather than limiting the battle to the legislature.

If you're looking for another option, there is also the Poker Patriots. This group's mission is to provide players, operators and affiliates of the online gambling industry with tools, training, resources and support needed to fight the UIGEA. They will be working with communities and with other organizations like the PPA to band together to share information and strengthen the efforts against the UIGEA.

Just because President Bush signed the UIGEA into law as part of the SAFE Port Act doesn't mean the war is over. It's just one battle that Republican legislators won. If poker tournament play is any indication, poker players will certainly have the patience and stamina to make it through this cold streak in American poker and eventually battle back to being able to play poker legally online again.

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