A letter to support a ban on online poker being pushed by attorney generals from three states at the behest of Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson already has 10 signatures, and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is making an aggressive effort to prevent the letter from gaining any further momentum.
"We're working overtime to make sure the letters don't gain momentum among state AGs," PPA executive director John Pappas said. "We understand 10 have signed already, and we're hoping we can change their minds as well. It's an odd thing for a state AG to support. Essentially, it's asking Congress to do a federal power grab on states, telling them what they can and cannot authorize. Either AGs are being misled or they don't care what the message is, they're just going to go along with this because they're being asked by Sheldon Adelson."
The attorney generals leading the charge are Chris Koster of Missouri, Jon Bruning of Nebraska and Alan Wilson of South Carolina. Also having signed the letter are Tom Horne of Arizona, David Louie of Hawaii, Bill Schuette of Michigan, Tim Fox of Montana, Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, Marty Jackley of South Dakota and Peter Michael of Wyoming.
Pappas noted that the ones who have signed so far, excluding Michigan, aren't among the most populous states in the country. Still, he's mindful that this doesn't become a situation like with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, when nearly all of the state AGs had offered support for the intended ban.
Through the PPA website via e-mails, Pappas said the poker community has already sent about 10,000 letters and another 10,000 tweets to their state AGs. That doesn't count tweets sent without going to the PPA site. People interested in sending a letter or tweet to their state attorney general can do so in less than a minute with pre-written material provided by the PPA.
The PPA sees player response to this letter being so important because it is the beginning of Adelson's efforts to gain momentum for the Internet Gambling Control Act, a federal draft bill to amend the Wire Act to apply to online poker and casino gaming that has yet to gain a congressional sponsor.
"We want them to earn every inch they try to get in this fight," Pappas said. "We don't want them to push any effort that goes unchallenged. Since this is the launch of their campaign, we want to make sure it comes hard fought."
Pappas doesn't think the states represented by AGs who have signed the letter are necessarily off the table for pursuing legal online poker in the future.
"An AG is not a lawmaker," Pappas said. "I think the decision about gaming policy will be left to legislators and governors, and enforcement of those laws left to the AG. Certainly AGs can have opinions on it, but lawmakers and governors will set the policy."