With the bodies of Congress mounting their annual attacks on the legalities of online gaming and poker, the Poker Players Alliance, a non-profit organization developed to protect the game of poker in America, was joined by several poker champions in a roundtable discussion of these events yesterday.
Leading the meeting was the president of the Poker Players Alliance, Michael Bolcerek, who said, "We are here today to speak about the growing threat to poker as it relates to the online game. We are here to defend the game and express our opposition to Congress' efforts to kill the sport and restrict our civil liberties." Joining Bolcerek during the discussion in Washington, DC, were former World Champions Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and Greg Raymer along with fellow poker great Howard Lederer. During the lively discussion, it was pointed out by all that there doesn't seem to be the demand from the American public to legislate any form of poker, be it online or live.
A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that 85% of Americans are against any Congressional legislation that would ban or inhibit the abilities of millions to play poker. The legislation, started in one form or another by Congressmen Jon Kyl, Bob Goodlatte and Jim Leach, are at the forefront of the lobbying efforts of the Poker Players Alliance and the professional poker players in attendance at the conference added in their experience with poker as a game of skill, rather than gambling.
Citing another survey from March 29th done by ICR, an independent market research company in Pennsylvania, Bolcerek noted that the survey numbers from that study were nearly in compliance with the Wall Street Journal article. The most recent study by ICR shows that nearly 75% of respondents are in opposition to the ongoing efforts of the current Congress to ban Internet poker and gaming overall. "The new poll results are a clear illustration of the public's feelings on this issue. Simply put, people don't want their member of Congress telling them what they can and cannot do in their own home, especially when it comes to a game that's as all-American as jazz or basketball," stated Bolcerek.
The numbers are even more striking when all aspects of poker, be it live in a casino or on an Indian reservation, are added in with the online debate. Almost 90% of the ICR respondents said the federal government should have no action in preventing Americans from playing poker in any of those arenas. With numbers like this, it is hard to believe that Congress can even continue to consider the present bills being considered.
As these actions are considered by Congress, it is only through the efforts of groups such as the Poker Players Alliance and the continued support of the professional poker community that these bills can be defeated. While their actions may be at the forefront of the ongoing battle, it is important to remember that individuals still have a voice in this debate. Be sure to express your sentiments to your respective representation in Congress and perhaps this annual battle on Capitol Hill can be struck down by the combined voices of the American poker player.
Ed Note: Make your voice heard on this crucially important issue. Find your congressperson at house.gov, or your senator at senate.gov, and let them know your feelings on this crucially important issue.