Over the past week a collection of poker advocates from all walks of life gathered in Washington D.C. to lobby for the legalization and regulation of online gambling. Spearheading the assault was the Poker Player’s Alliance, a million strong advocacy group who has emerged as the major lobbying force for legal poker in the U.S.
The group has dubbed this National Poker Week in order to help drum up support for their cause. The rallying cry appears to have been heard by players across America. The number of letters sent to members of Congress in July 2009, concerning online poker, are more than double the number sent in the whole of 2008.
The collective has spent the last five days organizing hundreds of meetings, holding seminars, and running charity tournaments. Lawmakers from all sides of the UIGEA argument have met with PPA members to debate and raise awareness. The team has also been keen to get in touch with undecided members of Congress, in order to sway some of the more impressionable voices to the pro-poker cause.
Among the posse who traveled to the capitol were poker pros Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Greg Raymer, and Dennis Phillips. They were joined by PPA state representatives, members of the poker media, and a host of other interested parties. Their efforts have certainly brought the issue to the attention of the mainstream media. The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal have both run stories about National Poker Week and PPA Executive Director John Pappas took part in a live TV debate on CNBC.
No stint of poker advocacy would be complete without a charity event, in this case arranged to benefit the Washington Metro United Service Organization (USO). Along with the big name poker pros and a few Congressmen, 30 injured war veterans competed in a rebuy tournament. The top finisher was a disabled Iraq War survivor.
Some interesting legislative news has also emerged regarding a new pro-poker bill due to make its way into the Senate. Senator Robert Menendez, a well known poker advocate, hopes to introduce a bill similar to that proposed by Barney Frank. Frank’s version was due for debate in July, but was delayed due to the worsening economy. Barney’s bill is expected to re-emerge sometime in September, but may be proceeded by Menedez’s effort.