With momentum on Capitol Hill largely riding on the shoulders of Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), the Chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, the PPA has gradually turned towards the movement to legalize and regulate online poker at the state level. In Florida, calls for legalized intrastate online poker have been building, leading PPA Executive Director John Pappas to testify in front of the Florida Senate Regulated Industries Committee in February.
Despite the seemingly positive introduction of intrastate internet gambling legislation, the PPA has been cautious about throwing its full weight behind any bill. In an update to PPA members sent recently, the organization explained its skepticism: “Florida is contemplating a single-source provider of online poker, i.e. one poker website. PPA is concerned that the lack of competition and consumer choice could also negatively impact the player experience.”
Pappas told Poker News Daily that building an online poker site from the ground up is far from an easy endeavor: “The idea that they’ll be able to maintain liquidity is a bit of a fallacy, particularly if it’s going to be limited to one operator. Players will be bored with one site and they currently like the ability to play on multiple sites. My pitch has been to look at what’s going on at the federal level.” On Capitol Hill, Frank’s HR 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, allows multiple internet gambling sites to solicit U.S. customers.
In Delaware and Pennsylvania, legislation has been passed in 2010 introducing and expanding table games, including poker. As you might expect, the PPA has been wholly enthusiastic about both developments, commenting, “The PPA welcomes this as a first step in advancing opportunities for poker players to play games of skill such as Texas Hold’em in a licensed and regulated atmosphere.” Table games will likely debut in the middle of 2010 and according to the Allentown Morning Call newspaper, the Sands Corporation has set a target rollout date of July 1st.
In Alaska, a unique battle is brewing as to whether charity poker tournaments are permitted under state law. PPA Alaska State Director Rich Markgraf has reportedly sent a letter to government officials seeking clarification of the legality of charity events. The PPA dubbed the Alaskan stance against charity tournaments a “misguided notion.”
In early February, Pappas testified in front of the California Senate Governmental Organization Committee arguing for increased competition in any proposal legalizing intrastate online poker. Pappas explained to Poker News Daily, “We believe in a competitive marketplace, one that favors everyone who wants to get into the marketplace.” However, increased momentum at the state level for legalized internet gambling could pay dividends on a national level. 2010 is an election year, leading many in the industry to question whether legalizing internet gambling will even be addressed.
In its monthly update, the PPA was quick to point out that online poker players helped raise more than $1.5 million for victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th. Major online poker sites matched player donations dollar-for-dollar, resulting in a $1.5 million haul for charity. PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato applauded the efforts of many in the community in the organization’s mailer: “Like the rest of the world, the poker community is eager to do anything it can to aid Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake. I applaud PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Cake Poker for providing poker players across the globe an easy way to make a contribution.”
Visit the official website of the PPA to keep up-to-date on its latest endeavors.