21st of January 2010 Author: Ava Jackuard
Poker players' organisation is gearing up for the big battle - the legalisation of online poker in the United States.
John Pappas, executive director of the million member-strong Poker Players Alliance, has asked his membership to prepare for the biggest legislative push yet to legalise online gambling in the United States.
In a PPA video posted on the Alliance's website this week, Pappas marshalled the members for the imminent introduction of HR2267, Congressman Barney Frank's proposal to regulate and tax Internet gaming, to a committee vote and possible mark-up that could come as early as February 2010.
'We expect within a few short weeks, most likely in the month of February, there will be a committee vote on this legislation,' Pappas revealed. 'This is a very critical and important for vote for the Poker Players Alliance, as well as the poker community, and we need everyone to step up and make sure that their voices are heard.'
The PPA initiatives in the past encouraging members to lobby their political representatives on HR2267 have proved to be influential, and this occasion is no different, Pappas noted, urging poker players to contact their members of Congress and let them know that they support the Frank's bill.
'This will be the first time - ever - that there will be a vote on licensing and regulation of Internet poker and Internet gaming in general,' said Pappas. 'We need bi-partisan support, and we need your help in achieving that. Over the next few weeks, you'll be hearing more from us about things you can to do to alert your members of Congress about this important committee vote and why they should vote in support of HR 2267, so get ready to advocate for poker.'
Congressman Frank, who chairs the powerful House Financial Services Committee, has seen the start of the new year bring a further two politicians onto the roll of those supporting his H.R. 2267 'The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2009', which was introduced in May 2009.
In the first two weeks of January, New York Democrat Eliot Engel and Charlie Melancon, a Democrat from Los Angeles signed up for the measure, bringing political endorsements to 65 representatives.
HR2267 was the subject of a Congressional hearing in early December, although the bill was not marked up on that occasion as interested parties discussed the issues around the measure. That may be about to change, says Pappas, commenting that a markup may be on the Frank schedule: 'The big next step for us is the markup," Pappas said, adding that the PPA has identified political opinion formers and was targeting them in its lobbying efforts.
Should a mark-up take place, it could lead to a debate on HR2267 on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2010, opening up possibilities for political tactics to push the bill through.
That's sometime in the future; for now the biggest challenge is to ensure that partisan politics does not derail a well crafted bill, Pappas notes.
Frank and other politicians have also secured a victory of sorts in further delaying the implementation of the UIGEA regulations until June 1st 2010, giving space to manouevre in a bid to ensure that this time the initiative to legalise online gambling is given the attention and discussion that it deserves.
The passage of the UIGEA is notorious for the undemocratic manner in which it was passed in 2006, riding on the coat tails of an unrelated 'must pass' security bill in a late night session of Congress right before an electoral recess.
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