GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 18 - October 2011

From: John Pappas, PPA To: Joe Brennan, iMEGA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joe, I think you and I agree more than it may seem. The bottom line is that both of our organizations want to ensure that Americans have the freedom to enjoy a hand of poker from their home computer – whether they choose to do so for recreation or for their profession. The efforts at the state level no doubt add to the momentum we are seeing in Congress. And while the PPA will continue to support select state efforts, a bulk of our resources will be committed to a federal solution for the time being. What I think we should even further agree to is to work together to convince policymakers, and even the public to a certain extent, that the benefits of licensing and regulating online poker far outweigh any downsides. Poker, unlike state lotteries, roulette, slots and even the local church bingo game, is a game of skill, the fate of which predominately rests on the player’s choices versus the luck of the draw. Establishing a regulatory regime for online poker would not, as some opponents argue, bring a casino into every American home. What it would do is provide a safe marketplace for Americans to enjoy a pastime they love, while ensuring that those who operate those sites are legitimate and on the up and up. Plus, it has the added benefit of providing billions in state and federal revenue. That is money that is sorely needed given our nation’s current economic crisis. I think it would be shortsighted and not in the players’ interest for any legislators, federal or state, to develop online poker legislation with revenue generation as the primary objective. Yes, it is a great benefit, but what players want – and our opponents, to be honest – is to know that the sites on which they play are safe, that some government entity has jurisdiction over the sites, and that they have some legal recourse should something nefarious occur. Given the fallout after Black Friday, I think players are placing a premium on playing on legitimate sites – if not, they would be flocking to those sites that choose to take their chances and offer U.S. play even after the clampdown by the Justice Department. If lawmakers pass legislation that prioritizes consumer protection, the revenue and market benefits will follow. Companies that have clear rules and regulations will have more incentive to enter the market and provide a top-notch poker experience for Americans. Whether that experience will be provided by existing operators, land-based casinos or new entrepreneurs is yet to be seen. This debate is encouraging to me in that it shows the passion for this issue and that interest in establishing a licensed and regulated online poker marketplace continues to grow. Yes, there are obstacles to overcome, but there is clear consumer demand and a thriving marketplace just waiting to be tapped. That is a recipe for a “win” for policymakers. Fed or State? – The Great U.S. iGaming Regulation Debate