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Thursday, October 25th, 2007

PPA Blitz

Written by Tom Somach in Poker News

BY TOM SOMACH

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), online poker’s main lobbying group, descended on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. this week for a three-day blitz, hoping to convince legislators to legalize online poker.

About 100 PPA members, including PPA officials and the PPA’s main spokesman, former New York senator Al D’Amato, met with Congress members and others on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, in an effort to get Congress to either reverse portions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which make it harder to play poker online, or to pass new legislation clearly stating online poker is legal in the U.S.

UIGEA, passed by the U.S. Congress last fall, doesn’t specifically ban online gambling, but does ban financial transactions with online gambling sites, making it difficult to fund online betting.

“The idea that (the U.S. government) can kind of stop people from doing this (playing poker online) seems a bit irrational,” John Pappas, PPA executive director, told the Associated Press.

Pappas also told A.P. he estimates there are between 15 million and 23 million Internet poker players in the U.S.

Among those also representing the PPA in the Capitol Hill poker blitz were professional poker players Howard “The Professor” Lederer and 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event champion Chris Moneymaker.

The PPA’s argument for legalizing poker is that the game involves mostly skill or talent, not luck or chance, and therefore is no different legally from, say, online chess.

According to Pappas, the PPA has about 800,000 members, although A.P. noted that many of those so-called “members” were automatically enrolled in the PPA when they participated in online poker tournaments at certain online poker rooms.

(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected].)

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