Making use of a gathering of the world’s top poker players at the World Series of Poker being held at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) held a town hall meeting Saturday to update players on the latest legislative efforts regarding online poker.
Featuring the Poker Hall of Fame’s Linda Johnson, the House of Representatives’ staunchest online poker proponent Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), and Greg “Fossilman” Raymer, who won the WSOP Main Event in 2004, the meeting was designed to receive feedback and answer the questions of concerned players.
The good news coming out of the meeting is that Senators Jon Kyl and Harry Reid are apparently working behind the scenes to draft federal legislation for online poker. The bad news is that the only chance of something happening will be after the November presidential elections, if at all.
“If we don’t get something done by regular order in July, what we’d have to do is get something done by Reid after the presidential election,” said Rep. Barton. But the Texas representative added that any action by next month is highly unlikely due to a number of factors. For that reason, hopes are being pinned on the Senate acting in November.
“The real deal is going to happen in the Senate,” said John Pappas, PPA’s executive director. “Kyl views this as important to his legacy.” That legacy includes being one of the main proponents of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, but now having a change of heart and endorsing online poker. “Kyl recognizes in order to strengthen the law against other activities, he’s willing to carve out a poker exception.”
The absence of federal legislation has prompted individual states to enact their own online poker legislation. Delaware joined Nevada last week as the only two states to authorize Internet poker. The First State also expanded its land-based gambling offerings to include keno and NFL wagering in more than 120 locations combined, as well as approving online casino games.
The PPA, poker’s main lobbying organization on behalf of players, endorses online poker legislation at the federal level. But if that measure should ultimately fail, the grassroots campaign will resign itself to “engaging in figuring out what to do if online poker legislation goes state by state,” Pappas said.