The Poker Players Alliance, or PPA, has been fighting to regulate online poker play in America. Recently, HR 2267, or the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act, has been reported to the House Financial Services Committee and is now in line to be debated by Congress. The bill would regulate online poker within the United States of America. This would establish online poker sites in America. One would assume that all poker rooms would support this bill, but that is certainly not the case.
Commerce Casino’s Tom Malkasian has spoken out against HR 2267 in his testimony at the House Financial Services Committee. In describing the PPA, he said it is one of many “special interest groups receiving funds from illegal offshore gaming operators.” In his testimony, he stated that allowing illegal poker sites to receive licenses under the new bill would “destabilize the land-based casino gaming industry.” The Commerce Casino employs over 20,000 workers in California. Additionally, Commerce Casino claims to want to protect the Californian Internet poker players, what he describes as the biggest Internet gaming market worldwide: “We can either fight to ensure that poker players’ interests are protected or allow illegal foreign operators, who are siphoning millions of American dollars out of this country, to dominate the U.S. market.” As part of his testimony, Malkasian compared legalized Internet gambling to legalized marijuana. On Friday, Commerce released a press release claiming other Californian poker rooms, Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, and Hollywood Park Casino, are in support of Commerce Casino and oppose Barney Frank’s bill.
The Poker Players Alliance quickly responded to Commerce Casino’s position on HR 2267 with a petition at PlayersBeforeProfits.com. PPA Executive Director, John Pappas, has made it evident that the poker bill contains a stipulation where 50% of a poker site’s operations must be within the country; there is nothing to protect poker players from. Pappas explained that Commerce Casino did not “want to compete with existing online operators or Harrah’s or Wynn or Google or anyone who may get involved in Internet gambling.” The PPA hopes for 10,000 signatures on their petition and currently it stands at over 6,800. Famous poker players such as Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Mike Caro, Annie Duke, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Laak Patrik Antonius, Erick Lindgren, David Williams, Joe Sebok, and countless others have added their names to the petition in hopes of getting others to follow suit. Some players have even begun to boycott Californian casinos, though the PPA does not officially support a boycott. However, it’s been said that the PPA may change their stance on the boycott (and call for one) if Commerce Casino does not change their stance.
The fight for HR 2267 still has many bumps to overcome but things are looking positive. The Poker Players Alliance is determined to win the fight. FlopTurnRiver members and readers can do their part by signing their names at PlayersBeforeProfits.com to bring the PPA one step closer to the 10,000 signature mark.
For a video of Tom Malkasian’s testimony against HR 2267, please click here.