Poker Players Alliance chairman Alfonse D'Amato will be a witness at the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing on Internet poker on Tuesday.
The hearing isn't on Rep. Joe Barton's online poker bill, though Barton is a member of the subcommittee. Instead, it will focus on the more general theme "Internet Gaming: Is There a Safe Bet?"
"I think there are different stakeholders who are not necessarily on board with Barton's bill and would like to have a general discussion on how Internet poker can be regulated," said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. "It will be a learning opportunity for the committee members to get their heads around an issue without confusing specific legislation. We think it will be good for building momentum."
Pappas indicated that D'Amato will speak on what players would like to see in federal legislation, including the solvency of operators, ensuring player funds are kept in a separate trust account, and the fairness of games.
"Given the committee's interest in player protections, I think it is appropriate that someone from the PPA testifies," Pappas said. "It's certainly a big moment for the organization and we're very excited that D'Amato has been invited."
The subcommittee is chaired by Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), who won a special election to take the place of husband Sonny Bono when he died in a skiing accident in 1998 and is now in her sixth term. She has been tagged as being an opponent of federally legislated online poker in the past, though more will be known after the hearing. She comes from Palm Springs, where tribal interests are prominent.
The subcommittee is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In past years, Rep. Barney Frank's Internet gambling bills have went in front of the full Financial Services Committee without going through a subcommittee. Pappas said that was more a product of Frank being chairman of the full committee, and that going through a subcommittee is normally how the process goes.
Because the hearing is not on a specific bill, the subcommittee might have to hold another hearing and then markup on Barton's bill before it could go in front of the full Energy and Commerce Committee.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. EDT in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
"I am pleased that Chairman Bono Mack is holding a hearing on the important issue of Internet gaming," Barton said in a statement. "It's a first step to showing why the current law is a lose-lose for everyone — the public, the taxpayer, the banking industry, and the people who want to play online poker openly and honestly on the Internet. I look forward to an open exchange of ideas."
The PPA is asking for poker players to use Twitter and Facebook to send encouraging messages regarding online poker to subcommittee members prior to the hearing. For people who are constituents of subcommittee members, emails and phone calls would be of greater impact.
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