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Poker Players Alliance And Its Pro-Poker Preaching
by Karl Yu

Online gambling seems to be in a state of flux in the United States with both pro and anti-online gambling advocates trying to sell their points of view.

A report in the UK’s Telegraph in early October stated that the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Department of Justice were working together to push the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act through.

The legislation would prevent banks, credit card companies and other payment services from processing transactions for online gambling sites which the U.S. considers illegal.

Another faction of the U.S. government, led by Democratic Representative Barney Frank, is trying to implement legislation that would tax and legalize online gambling—the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (IGREA).

A non-profit organization not affiliated with the U.S. government—although its board is does have former politicians—is also doing its best to support online gambling.

The Pokers Players Alliance, whose motto is to “Fight for Poker” recently gathered up its membership and headed to Washington, D.C. to lobby on behalf of poker players everywhere.

We recently had the opportunity to chat with the PPA’s Executive Director, John Pappas about a number of topics, including the recent lobbying efforts.

3) In your estimation how much more exposure do professionals like Annie Duke and Howard Lederer add to the cause?

They are important because they gain critical media attention to our issue.

However, poker's best advocate is not the pros, but the Average Joe poker player who is a member of the Poker Players Alliance. Congress must and will listen to their voters.

4) What are your general views on the UIGEA?

UIGEA is a very poor attempt to deal with industry that should be regulated not prohibited.

It won't work and sadly will lead to unintended consequences. It infringes on the liberties of Americans and moreover deputizes the banks to serve as the government’s morality police. The bill is just plain wrong in its current form.

5) Are there any other future events that the PPA is planning?

No more in Washington this year aside from continued letter writing campaigns and other grassroots back in the states. We will soon unveil new plans for 2008.

6) How would you rate the current lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., do you consider it a success?

Yes, it was a great success.

We raised awareness not only of the issues but also to the fact that there is a passionate poker constituency in America that cares how there lawmakers vote on these issues.

The proof is also in the pudding, we have added cosponsors to the bills since the Fly-In and this week's Congressional hearing was a direct result of our efforts in October.

7) What do you say to the person who says online poker promotes problem gambling?

I would tell them to look at the facts.

The recent UK Gambling Prevalence Study conducted by the British Government showed that since 1999 (right at the beginning of the Internet gaming explosion) till 2007 there was actually a drop in the percentage of "problem gamblers" in the country and that the amount of gamblers did not significantly increase.

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