The Poker Player’s Alliance has dispatched a rallying cry to enthusiasts all across the country. They ask that poker playing citizens of the United States stand up for the rights of their game, in a era that could prove immensely important for the industry. Thanks largely to the efforts of the PPA, the UIGEA, due to come into effect on December 1st, was delayed. Barney Frank and his allies in Washington now have 6 months to work through a ratified system of legal online gambling. Their most powerful weapon comes in the form of H.R. 2267, a bill drawn up by Congressman Frank that would fully legalize online poker and introduce sufficient regulation to maintain the integrity of the industry.
Shortly after the UIGEA implementation was successfully postponed, Frank scheduled a preliminary House debate on the bill. In the words of PPA Executive Director John Pappas, the hearing went, “exceptionally well,” and set the stage for a full mark-up. In anticipation of this procedure, the PPA has released a video that attempts to build a groundswell of grass-roots support for Frank’s endeavor. The Poker Players Alliance has over 1 million members, including many of the game’s top pros, and that nationwide collective has previously demonstrated an ability to operate as a powerful political force.
In the recorded message, John Pappas says that people, “need to work double-time,” to get this legislation passed. With the June 1st UIGEA deadline creeping ever closer, Pappas was pleased to report that, “within a few short weeks…there will be a committee vote on this legislation.” Congressman Frank is apparently keen to hold a mark-up session in February. The video acts a preliminary call to arms for the poker community, to help push through this “critical and important vote for the…poker community.” Pappas asks that, in the coming weeks, U.S. poker players contact their Congressman and Senators to express their feelings on the issue. In short, Papass says the PPA “needs your help” to make sure H.R. 2267 passes through the House successfully
As chairman of the House Financial Service Committee, Frank holds a powerful position in the legislature and has been able to secure as many as 65 co-sponsors for his bill. Although the first hearing went smoothly, no official vote was taken. In the mark-up, any member of the committee can suggest amendments that they would like to attached to the bill. If a selection of alterations can be agreed upon, then a vote is taken. Success for H.R. 2267 in this vote does not guarantee passage to the Senate, instead, the amended bill is cleared to pass on to a final vote in the House. If the bill can successfully negotiate the House, the battle is still only half won. The Senate must also approve H.R. 2267 before the June 1st deadline and Pappas has confided that, “the Senate has been a tougher ground for us to plow so far.”
Although it is only the first in a long chain of hurdles, this mark-up vote could potentially become an historic moment in the history of online poker. As Pappas notes, this is the first time in history that there has ever been a vote regarding the legalization of online poker. All previous legislative action has been focused on banning or restricting access to online gambling. With decent political support in place, the PPA feels that a strong push from the average player could be instrumental in tipping the scales in favor of H.R. 2267.