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It is no secret that 2016 was a frustrating year for online poker in the United States insofar as no new states joined the industry and RAWA continued to threaten its federal online gambling ban. While New Jersey thrived in its own small but successful bubble, and Nevada and Delaware continued to push forward, the rest of the nation refused to acknowledge the industry’s promise.

The threat of bills like the Restoration of America’s Wire Act cannot be avoided with a new administration taking power that emboldens Sheldon Adelson and his anti-online gambling agenda. That means that the Poker Players Alliance must be on the defensive with eyes wide open as 2017 progresses, as anyone who owes Adelson a favor might be ready to pounce on internet gaming at any time.

Meanwhile, despite many American states seeking additional revenue to make ends meet, concerns (many misguided and simply false) about online gaming thwart the process of legalizing and regulating an industry that has great potential for revenue, employment, and long-term growth. Numerous states have experienced varying degrees of progress with regard to online poker, but the new year presents new opportunities to push for absolute success. The PPA will be working to make that happen.

With all of that said, PokerUpdate asked the PPA, along with some of its representatives and supporters, about what poker players and fans can expect in the coming year.

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John Pappas, PPA Executive Director

“Our focus for 2017 will be to expand on the growing support for internet poker. In 2016, hundreds of state lawmakers expressed their support for regulated iPoker and iGaming. This is a major achievement for an industry that is gaining legitimacy in the United States after a tumultuous history.

“The PPA will continue to fight for poker on the state and federal level. The fight, however, will be different for each. In states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York, we will be on the offensive, seeking to push bills across the finish line. In a state like Massachusetts, our role will be educational, to get state lawmakers engaged and interested. At the federal level, we will once again be playing defense. It is unclear where the threat may come from at the federal level – Congress or the Administration – but we are already laying the groundwork to defeat RAWA or any effort to upend the ability of states to regulate iGaming.”

Judah Rosenstein, PPA State Director for Pennsylvania

“To use a poker analogy, I see the PPA and its supporters in Pennsylvania sitting with momentum at the tail end of a marathon session. We have been focused on prevailing for a very long time, educating and keeping the pressure on our legislators and opponents, even in the face of temporary setbacks. Those efforts, together with other factors, have gotten us to a place where it is realistic to expect 2017 to be the year that PA finally gets legal, regulated online poker.

“The goal for me personally is to make sure that PA poker enthusiasts stay informed and motivated because there are a lot of pressing issues facing the Commonwealth, and if we don’t raise (and re-raise) our voices, this will drag on even longer.”

Steve Miller, PPA State Director for California

“California poker players want their lawmakers to enact legislation in 2017 to license and regulate online poker in the state. Despite the successes we have had over the last several years in building consensus among every major stakeholder with a vested interest in a vibrant and regulated online poker market, we have yet to achieve our ultimate goal. And that’s very disappointing to millions of California poker players.

“In 2016, much progress was made with brick-and-mortar casinos and cardrooms, the horse racing industry, and several of the most influential tribal entities joining forces behind legislation proposed by Assemblyman Adam Grey. Further support was evident among a wide political spectrum of legislators, as well as the state’s gaming regulatory body. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t sufficient to enact legislation that would bring consumer protections to players and fresh revenues to the state’s coffers.

“In my opinion, until and unless all California tribes can work out their differences in 2017, California players will likely have to wait it out for another year. It’s beyond frustrating, but we simply cannot give up the fight.

“The PPA will continue its effort to bring licensed and regulated online poker to California in 2017. In my role as PPA California State Director, I urge California players to join the PPA — it’s the most important action players can take. The more players in the state represented by the PPA, the louder will be our collective voice in Sacramento.”

Greg Raymer, Member of PPA Board of Directors

“Every state has a chance, and the best way to get online poker in your state is to let your representatives know you want it, and that their decision on this issue makes a difference when it’s time for you to vote. Tell them now, and tell them often. And get your poker friends to do the same.”

Jason Somerville, PPA Supporter

“I’m optimistic that we’ll see Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, and New York consider online poker bills in 2017. All four states made varying degrees of legislative progress in 2016, and all already allow some form of live and/or online gambling within their borders. With enough pressure from their constituents and state business interests, I’m hopeful at least one of those states will pass reasonable online poker legislation next year.”

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.

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