The events of National Poker Week are winding down, but the lobbying campaign appears to be a success as poker players and members of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) appeared everywhere from Capitol Hill to CNBC to Howard Stern’s show, promoting the game and the rights of those who enjoy playing it.
Several PPA state directors and poker players arrived in Washington D.C. on Sunday to kick off a week of lobbying efforts that included meeting with Senators and Representatives, a charity poker tournament to benefit the USO and a number of public appearances designed to spread awareness about the rights of poker enthusiasts around the country. Additionally, it served as an opportunity to deliver the Poker Petition to President Barak Obama. The PPA-sponsored petition has collected over 370,000 signatures since it was introduced back in June.
The week’s festivities included a dinner Monday night hosted by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) as well as PPA Chairman and former Senator Alfonse D’Amato and PPA Executive Director John Pappas. Both Pappas and D’Amato had high profile media appearances this week in conjunction with National Poker Week. D’Amato appeared on the popular radio program, The Howard Stern Show. During his appearance, D’Amato discussed the activities planned for National Poker Week, the number of people who partake in poker across the nation and the work of the PPA. Host Howard Stern, a longtime poker enthusiast, also announced on the show that he would be joining the PPA.
John Pappas made an appearance on the CNBC program “Head2Head” where he debated with Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gaming. Pappas lobbied for regulation and taxation of online poker sites in order to achieve precisely what Bernal and his organization desire: the protection of minors and at-risk gamblers whom Pappas claimed lack consumer protection in the current online poker environment in which playing online is not illegal, but it is not regulated by the government either. Bernal countered his points by suggesting that all online poker sites operate with a business model that is designed to prey upon problem gamblers and losing gamblers. Pappas then explained the way online poker rake works in an attempt to clarify why sites do not care whether players win or lose so long as they play.
The media appearances weren’t the only thing to go well during National Poker Week. The charity rebuy tournament benefitting the USO raised $35,000 for the organization thanks in part to the generosity of poker pros like Annie Duke and Howard Lederer, who rebought for themselves and for several of the veterans seated at their table many times over the course of the evening.
In addition to playing in the charity event, Duke, Lederer, former World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Greg Raymer, Andy Bloch and Jordan Morgan all showed up in Washington to meet with politicians and push for legislation that would regulate online poker in the United States. The players came prepared to discuss Rep. Barney Frank’s recently introduced online poker legislation as well as how regulated online gaming can help provide some of the money necessary to fund President Obama’s new health care plan.
The overall impact of National Poker Week on the US political landscape remains to be seen, but the upcoming months should give poker enthusiasts a better idea of the future of online poker as legislation from Frank and others are introduced in Congress.

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