National Poker Week in Washington, DC

by Lou on July 23, 2009

OK, OK … I get the message, and I apologize. I know I haven’t posted here since July 9 and I’ll try to do better in the future.

Meanwhile, this is National Poker Week, an event cooked up by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA)—poker’s million member grassroots advocacy group. More than 50 representatives of the PPA, including 33 state directors, traveled to Washington, D.C. to tell lawmakers that poker is not a crime, and ask them to support licensing and regulation legislation that protects online poker—a game played by more than 10 million Americans.
“From the more than 100 meetings with members and staff to the charity tournament that raised $35,000 for our wounded warriors, I’d say National Poker Week was a rousing success,” PPA chairman and former senator Alfonse D’Amato said. “Congress is preparing for hearings this fall on the licensing and regulation of the game we love, so I urge all PPA members to continue this activism and enthusiasm so our elected officials can take their marching orders and fight to protect our game.”
D’Amato kicked off National Poker Week with an appearance on the Howard Stern Show, where he signed Howard up as a member of the PPA.

Professional poker player Andy Bloch, who participated in numerous meetings with members of Congress and their staff, said “every single meeting and every method of communication counts. Even if you’re cynical about the political process, you’ll be encouraged to know that these members, whether they agree yet or not, are listening to our arguments and are truly surprised to know just how popular poker is in their hometowns. I truly feel we are winning on this issue, and the time is ripe for pro-poker legislation to pass into law.”
PPA also hosted a charity poker tournament and presented a $25,000 check to the USO-Metro benefiting the Malone House at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Wounded servicemen and women played alongside poker pros, PPA’s State Directors, members of Congress, and their staff, with all $10,000 of the re-buys going “all-in” to the USO.
Earlier in the week, PPA pulled together online security experts for a Congressional staff briefing on how Internet poker can be effectively regulated in the United States. The panelists included Dr. Parry Aftab, Executive Director of Wired Safety, Stuart Dross, Vice President of Cigital, and Paul Mathews, former executive with International Game Technology. The panelists corrected many of the misperceptions of online poker and discussed with congressional staff the effective and available solutions to properly regulate online games.
A lot of effort has gone into this and other PPA events and I hope they are on the right track. As much as I like poker, and as strongly as I believe that Congress has no right to tell us what we can do with our money in the privacy of our own homes, as long as we’re not harming others by our actions, my gut feeling is that the issue of online poker just doesn’t register very high on the average congressional radar screen, what with the economy, war, President Obama’s weekly lecturing on his health care campaign, and whatever else pops up as the issue de jour.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m 100 percent behind the PPA in their efforts, and I believe they are constitutionally, morally, and ethically on the right side of this issue, it’s going to be a long, hard pull to get it over the hurdles required to properly regulate online poker. I hope they get there, but I’m afraid it might be later rather than sooner.
I hope you can help prove me wrong: For more information and to contact members of Congress, please visit

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