How the PPA Affects Poker in the USA

Introduction

The Poker Players Alliance (www.theppa.org), also known as the PPA, is an advocacy group that operates in the United States in a bid to represent the rights and objectives of poker players in the country. The PPA is a nonprofit group which was founded in 2005 “to speak with one voice to promote poker, and to protect the players’ rights.”  While the PPA operates as a grassroots group, it meets with politicians and activists at the highest levels, taking their cause to the internet, to major poker tournaments and to the corridors of Capitol Hill in a bid to promote poker in the United States.  One of the group’s major causes was getting online poker legalized and regulated in the country and the repealing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

PPA Members

In its first year of existence, the PPA had already managed to sign up over 600,000 members and by April 2009, the group had reached past the 1 million member milestone. Membership comprises of both online and offline players and the PPA has always said that its power is in its members and their ability to spread a positive message about the game and why it should be protected.

One of the PPA’s missions is also to defend the legal rights of its members, and the group regularly meets and works with key lawmakers to “ensure a thoughtful and productive dialogue that represents everyone who enjoys and wants to protect the game.”

The PPA takes pride in the make-up of its members to prove that this is a group that should be taken seriously. A recent survey of the group showed that over 72% of members have at least some college education, and that more than 75% were between 30 – 64 years of age. 47% of PPA members earn over $50,000 a year.

Poker as a Game of Skill

One of the key messages from the PPA is that poker is a game of skill – an opinion which it backs with proof from academics, legal scholars, opinion leaders and mainstream newspaper editors.  The group has proven in a number of states that poker is a game of skill, and continues to demand that the game be kept out of the laws governing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act for this very reason.  It has been unsucessful in doing so at at the Federal Level as courts and judges continue to rule against poker as skill.

The PPA and Legal Action

As noted, one of the key objectives of the PPA is to have online poker legalized and regulated in the United States on a Federal Level. The group lobbied against the introduction of the UIGEA in 2006 (unsuccessfully) and continues to fight for its repeal up until today. Some of the bills currently backed by the PPA are as follows:

Prominent PPA Members

Alphonse D’Amato – Serves as chairman of the PPA. D’Amato is a former New York Seantor and one of the most outspoken pro-poker advocates in the history of the game.

John Pappas – Executive Director. Served as vice president of government affairs for the PPA before he started becoming engaged in high level policy and political consulting for the group in the last decade.

Howard Lederer – (removed due to Full Tilt scandal) A professional poker player, Lederer is a prominent name in the game, both online and off and is a World Poker Tour Champion.

Linda Johnson – “The First Lady of Poker”, Johnson become the second woman in history to win a World Series of Poker open event. She is a publisher and entrepreneur, and remains very active in the promotion of the game on a national scale.

Chris Ferguson – (removed due to Full Tilt scandal) Another professional poker player, Ferguson is a World Series of Poker Champion and is especially active in the promotion of online poker. Ferguson was part of the software design team for the popular Full Tilt Poker site and continues to fight for the PPA cause on every front.

Conclusion

Through non-stop, hard-hitting campaigns and outreach programs, the PPA has managed to change the American public’s awareness of the game of poker on every level. With an estimated 55m Americans playing poker each year – 15 million of which play online for money – it remains clear that there is place for the continued efforts of the PPA.