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PPA Claims ‘Momentum Shift’ After National Poker Week

Poker Players Alliance Takes Its Case to D.C.

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The PPA went to Washington D.C. last week for National Poker Week.After its major fly-in to Washington, D.C., the Poker Players Alliance has hailed its inaugural National Poker Week as a significant turning point in the struggle to explicitly legalize and regulate online poker.

“One lobbyist told me he’s done this with dozens of clients before, and he’s never felt so good after one. It was a true momentum shift,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “He felt that after the fly-in, the interest in the issue, as well as the understanding of the issue, had moved in the right direction. That’s what we accomplished on this trip.”

The PPA hosted several of its state directors, as well as a number of poker professionals, in the nation’s capital for its first National Poker Week, which ran from July 19-25. The week was created to raise awareness about the major issues regarding the regulation of Internet poker.

According to Pappas, representatives of the PPA engaged in 110 meetings over a two-day period with either members of Congress or their staff.

“Of the meetings, about 35 percent of them were with the actual member of Congress and the others were with staff, which is pretty standard given their availability,” said Pappas. “But I think they all went very well.”

Thirty-three of the PPA’s state directors flew into D.C. on their own dime, while the organization covered their hotel and food costs. The organization also hosted several poker pros, including Howard Lederer, Greg Raymer, Annie Duke, Andy Bloch, Dennis Phillips, Linda Johnson, and Jan Fisher.

One of the highlights of the week was a charity poker tournament for the United Service Organizations, where the PPA raised more than $35,000. Several veterans from Walter Reed Memorial Hospital — many of them amputees from war — participated in the event, along with several members of Congress and approximately 180 people total.

“That night wasn’t about our narrow issue of licensing and regulating Internet poker. It was about honoring the vets,” said Pappas.

The PPA was on Capitol Hill to show its support for Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) new bill, which seeks to regulate the multi-billion dollar online poker industry. At the conclusion of the week, the organization announced that the bill had attracted 51 co-sponsors thus far, most of them Democrats but a few Republicans, as well, including former presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX).

Pappas said he was also thrilled by the support of the organization’s members, which included the sending of more than 200,000 letters to Congress about poker in the last month alone and a petition to President Obama in support of poker that nearly 400,000 people had signed.

“We had an overwhelming response,” said Pappas. “I think it went very well.”