he Poker Players Alliance (www.theppa.org) is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of over 1,000,000 online and offline poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players' rights.
The New Jersey legislature has passed the Intranet-State Internet Gambling bill last week, what are your expectations about it?
We applaud the New Jersey Legislature for recognizing the value of regulated online poker. It protects consumers, expands Internet freedoms, grows tax revenue and creates economic growth. The bill does all this without limiting the opportunity of players to continue to play on the sites they enjoy today. These are values the PPA has advocated for years at the federal level and will continue to fight for so that all Americans, not just New Jersey poker players, can benefit from regulation. It is still unclear if the Governor will allow the bill to become law or veto it.
How this bill could benefit online poker players?
The benefit for players is still unclear and it will depend on the ensuing regulations that the state establishes. The PPA continues to have an overarching concern with “inter-state” regulation because it closes players off from the U.S. and global marketplace, limiting competition, types of games and the opportunity to play at a variety of stakes. While the New Jersey law could work very well for players of casino-style games, the lessened critical mass of players could prove to be detrimental to the peer-to-peer poker experience.
What is the position of other US’ states regarding the regulation of online poker?
Currently, only 3 states (including New Jersey) have taken a serious look at regulation. Should the New Jersey bill succeed and be signed by the Governor it is conceivable that you will see a domino effect of neighboring states also seeking the same type of regulatory model. Further, if the federal government fails to act, I think you will see more and more states push for their own regulatory schemes.
In your opinion, could the Federal Government permit and regulate online gambling in US?
Absolutely. It is technologically viable without a doubt and U.S. regulation would even bring greater advancements to consumer protection.
Which benefits could online poker regulation bring to the Federal Government and the states?
The main benefit from federal licensing and regulation is the protections it would provide to Americans. Right now, Americans are playing poker on sites over which the US has no jurisdiction and no authority to protect vulnerable communities like children and problem gamblers. Additionally, licensing and regulation would generate revenue for states and the federal government, as well as embrace an industry that is growing by leaps and bounds – something much needed given the current economic environment. The bottom line is that Americans will play online poker no matter what. So the federal government has a choice – does it take action to protect these Americans and generate much needed revenue at the same time, or does it continue to stick its head in the sand and do nothing. The choice is crystal clear to me.
How does the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) work with lawmakers?
The PPA and its members meet with lawmakers throughout the year, explaining our issue and why we think federal licensing and regulation is the best policy option. Our members also send letters, emails, Tweets and call their lawmakers. We also have a highly skilled team of lobbyists in Washington D.C. and in select states who meet with lawmakers and their staff to advocate on behalf of the poker community.
What do you expect for this year?
This year we expect to see additional states introduce intra-state licensing bills, like what New Jersey did. At the same time, Senator Harry Reid said he plans to reintroduce the online poker bill he pushed in the lame duck session in December, so we look forward to working with him in the Senate. We’ll work with our allies in the House of Representatives to introduce a companion bill to Senator Reid’s. PPA has made great progress in the past few years, and will continue to build the momentum for passage of a federal bill to license and regulate online poker.