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Picking up Steam

19 April 2006

Two weeks ago, Rep. Bob Goodlatte brought his online gambling prohibition bill before a Judiciary subcommittee for a hearing, but the big news story was that three of poker's premiere players showed up in Washington D.C. to argue against it.

On the eve of the hearing, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Greg Raymer joined the Cato Institute's Radley Balko in a round table discussion that was attended by political staffers and representatives from the media. The event was organized by a grassroots organization called the Poker Players Alliance, which boasts a membership of about 20,000 American poker players.

Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, said he brought the poker superstars to Washington to "open a dialogue about the importance of talking about poker as a game of skill and as an American tradition."

The three high-profile pros were in town for three days representing the Poker Players Alliance, and in addition to the roundtable discussion, they attended the Goodlatte hearing and other social functions that put them in direct contact with Washington politicians, staffers and bureaucrats.

The Poker Players Alliance is dedicated to promoting and protecting the game of poker, whether it be played at home, at a casino or online. The organization, therefore, opposes the Goodlatte bill as well as any others that would restrict citizens' ability to play the game.

Perhaps even more important than voicing the group's concerns to lawmakers is the indirect effect the visit to D.C has had. In the days that followed, some of the country's most widely read publications, including U.S. News & World Report, ESPN.com and The Hill, plus local newspapers in dozens of American cities, carried the story of the three pros' visit.

The importance of the news coverage is potentially manifold. The articles surely have made millions of Americans--who are generally uniformed about the legal status (or lack thereof) of online gambling in their country--aware for the first time that certain U.S. legislators would like to prohibit poker and other forms of gambling over the Internet. At the same time, they would have also learned that there is at least one organization--the Poker Players Alliance--that intends to fight them.

The articles exposed numerous problems with Goodlatte's and other prohibition bills. They demonstrated that Internet service providers and banking institutions would have to pry into their customers' accounts to determine exactly what online activities they perform and what purchases they make from whom. They pointed out that millions of dollars that now go to offshore governments could return to the United States in taxes to pay for education and other social projects if the U.S. government were to license and regulate online gambling activities. Some of them even expressed that a regulatory regime could potentially provide a safer, more trustworthy gaming environment than could a prohibitory one.

Not even one year old yet, the Poker Players Alliance boasts 20,000 members who have joined the organization through membership packages for as low as $20 or as high as fits their passion for the game.

The media coverage of its events two weeks ago is sure to trigger a surge in its membership, but the Poker Players Alliance has also gained exposure through arrangements with Card Player Magazine, PartyPoker and others poker-related businesses.

The idea, of course, is that as the organization continues to grow, the voice of Americans who refuse to accept a prohibition on Internet poker will get louder.

Picking up Steam is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com