BY TOM SOMACH
Professional poker player Annie Duke, one of the top, if not the top female poker player in the world, has weighed in on the recent effort by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) to lobby the U.S. Congress to legalize online poker.
She is a PPA member and participated in meetings and other events last week in Washington, D.C. with Congress members and others, as part of the PPA’s so-called “fly-in” to Washington.
On her blog at www.annieduke.com, she gives a fascinating insider’s view of the event from the point of view of a celebrity poker player, writing:
“I just came back from one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. The Poker Players Alliance organized a fly-in to Washington, to lobby members of congress to support Rep. Barney Frank’s proposed legislation (HR 2046) and Rep. Robert Wexler’s proposed legislation (HR 2610).=A0Basically, HR 2046 allows for Internet gambling to be legalized and regulated in the U.S.=A0HR 2610 is a skill game carve-out for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).=A0If lotteries, horse racing and fantasy sports are carved out of the UIGEA, Wexler argues that games of skill such as poker, bridge, mah-jong and backgammon should be as well. Makes sense to me.
“Before the fly-in, Wexler’s bill had about 16 co-sponsors and Frank’s about 39.=A0 Our job was to meet with members of Congress to try to convince them to co-sponsor the two bills.=A0I still believe in the political process and I believe deeply that if I am going to complain about the erosion of our civil liberties under the current administration, then I really ought to be trying to do something active to fight it.=A0I got to meet with Rep. Wexler, Rep. Frank, Rep. Jim Moran, Rep. Linda Sanchez, Rep. Berman (my own congressman), Rep. Waxman, Rep. Larson, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Bobby Scott, and Sen. Patty Murray.
“On Monday night, I attended a fundraiser for Barney Frank, who is not only the author of HR 2046, but is also the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee…The next day I did an interview with the Los Angeles Times…After the interview I met with Wexler, Sanchez, and Moran.=A0Wexler is a big supporter of the cause, obviously.=A0 Sanchez is also a co-sponsor and she sits on the Judiciary Committee…The meeting with Moran went really well and I think we delivered some compelling arguments about the problems with the UIGEA.=A0He seemed supportive of both Frank’s and Wexler’s bills…
“Tuesday night we all headed over to the National Democratic Club where we had a nice dinner and then settled in for some poker.The male aids and congressman hung out with Howard (Lederer) and Chris (Ferguson)…I settled in with Linda Sanchez and some of the female congresswomen and aids.=A0They got the better deal cause I gave them a pretty thorough pre-flop no-limit hold’em lesson.=A0 I am expecting them to kick ass in some of the poker games around D.C. now.=A0It was pretty amazing for me to be in that room with all these Democratic movers and shakers.=A0As a lifelong Democrat, it felt a little like a Mecca experience for me.
“On Wednesay, I had lunch in the (Congressional) Members Dining Room, after we met with Rep. Larsen, who is Vice-Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.=A0After lunch, I headed off to meet with Rep. Berman, who is on the House Judiciary Committee and happens to be my congressman from Los Angeles.=A0 After that I met with Waxman and then with Rep. John Conyers, who is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.=A0All in all, I was busy from about 8 a.m. till after midnight every day.=A0But it was worth every single exhausting minute as I really felt like part of the process and just found so much passion about this issue…”
(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])