Poker Players Alliance Changes Strategy, Targets States

As the greatest poker song ever advises, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” The Poker Players Alliance may not be running, but they’re definitely switching tables after this year’s mid-term elections have dealt them an unfavorable hand.

Despite PPA executive director John Pappas’ optimistic remarks following the recent elections, it’s clear that the new Republican-dominated Congress is a far tougher playing field than the previous, more poker-friendly Capitol Hill contingent. Once Barney Frank loses his post as the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, the odds of bill HR 2267 making it to the House floor during the next year are grim. In the words of iMEGA’s chairman, Joe Brennan Jr., “The short odds got shorter as far as a federal bill is concerned.”

For that reason, the PPA has recently announced a shift in strategy. Though the organization’s mission statement has always vaguely incorporated both state and federal legislation, for its first five years the Alliance’s focus has very clearly been on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Now the PPA is unrolling a two-prong approach which will also throw the organization’s firepower behind important poker-related state legislation.

The move won’t come as much of a surprise to existing PPA members, who have likely received some of the many emails the organization has been sending out this year regarding a growing need for more state directors. Still, if some of this year’s crazier cases – including ongoing poker raids in South Carolina, funds seizures in Washington and one embittered little fishy’s lawsuit in Illinois – are any indication, then there’s already a huge need for change at the local level.

While the PPA already has some involvement in all three of the cases mentioned above, three key states – California, Florida and New Jersey – are also currently considering poker reform. And while Pappas is admittedly dubious about whether any of the proposed legislation has the players’ best interests in mind, rumor has it that the PPA may partner with the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) to help bring about change in New Jersey.

Thus far, the PPA and iMEGA seem to be conversing through the press with Brennan stating that the PPA could “potentially be a very effective partner if they chose to be on the state level.” For his part, Pappas reasserted the PPA’s concerns about putting the player first but threw Brennan a bone when he conceded that the time for the PPA to get behind a state proposal is fast approaching.

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