The congressional hearing regarding internet poker that recently took place focused mainly on how the regulations should be handled in the future and not about federal licensing of online poker in the US. However, the discussion regarding online poker has taken an interesting turn and much to the surprise of the poker community, the event drew out more supporters for online poker than anticipated.
For a change, people at the congressional hearing discussed how regulations could help with consumer protection. The house subcommittee members also spoke in favor of internet poker. The hearing is now put up for everyone to see on the C-SPAN website.
“With so many issues before Congress, we are encouraged that ensuring player protections for online poker was raised for consideration by this committee,” said Alfonse D’Amato, the chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, who was also a witness to the hearing.
“Clearly Congress is hearing the voices of the thousands of poker players across the country who have expressed their frustration at the government’s actions to restrict their personal freedom to play this great game,” he added.
Joe Barton, a subcommittee member who was strongly backing the bill that he had introduced to regulate and license online poker was once again very useful in maneuvering this discussion in the people’s perspective. He said, “I learned to play poker, believe it or not, in the Boy Scouts. If you learn something in the Boy Scouts, it’s got to be a good thing, right?”
Other witnesses who had links to their written testimony were D’Amato, Ernest L. Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, Parry Aftab a board member from FairPlayUSA and Kurt Eggert, a professor at Chapman University.
“I think what the committee will discover in the course of this hearing is that the status quo is badly broken and benefits no one — not my members, not the federal or state governments, not minors or problem gamblers, not the financial services sector and certainly not the U.S. economy,” D’Amato said.
Keith Whyte from the National Council on Problem Gambling, and Dan Romer from the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Adolescent Communication Institute were also present.
The hearing was opened by subcommittee chairman Mary Bono Mack who knew a lot about the issue and about poker terms, since they were generously used in her speech talking about the forthcoming showdown on Capitol Hill, and the high stakes at risk. It was also said that a UCLA survey stated that 85% of US adults indulged in gambling at least at some point in their lives.
Representatives from the PPA were pleased with the overall turnout and the support towards online poker in the congressional hearing.