Prior to the elections, I shared some key elections with implications for poker via the PPA Weekly Update and am pleased to share that, despite the benefits of incumbency, several anti-poker lawmakers will not be returning next year. In fact, all three candidates endorsed by PokerPAC, the PPA PAC, won election:
Stephanie Murphy (D-FL): PokerPAC-endorsed political newcomer Murphy defeated 12-term Rep. John Mica (R-FL) in their battle for his House seat. Mica cosponsors H.R. 707, the bill funded by Las Vegas Sands (Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Bethlehem) CEO Sheldon Adelson that would close down state-licensed poker websites and ban new ones.
Gen. Don Bacon (R-NE): PokerPAC-endorsed Bacon defeated first-term Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE) in their race for Ashford’s House seat. Ashford is a staunch opponent of poker, cosponsoring H.R. 707 after literally getting struck by Sheldon Adelson’s wife’s purse. Two years ago, Rep. Ashford replaced eight-term Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), another staunch poker opponent. Winning this historically hostile seat is a big win for poker.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): PokerPAC-endorsed Bennet was reelected to his Senate seat in his race against Darryl Glenn (R-CO).
Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH): Hassan defeated Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in a tough battle for Ayotte’s Senate seat. Ayotte, cosponsor of S. 1668, the Sheldon Adelson-funded bill that would close down state-licensed poker websites and ban new ones, lost by just 738 votes. In a year where every vote counts, perhaps she should not have told New Hampshire poker players that she did not want their vote.
Eric Greitens (R-MO): Greitens defeated anti-poker Attorney General Chris Koster (D-MO) in their race to succeed Gov. Jay Nixon. Koster led the effort to get state attorneys general to sign onto a letter seeking a federal ban on state-licensed poker websites.
Many have asked me for our thoughts on the potential impact of the Presidential race on poker. We know Vice President-elect Mike Pence is an ardent opponent of our game, which I have shared often. I have also stated that President-elect Trump is not really on record on this issue.
Sheldon Adelson provided substantial funding to the Trump campaign. On the other hand, Trump has strong business relationships with many in the gaming industry. Trump also has an ambitious agenda that will require all of his political capital, leaving very little to expend on shutting down state-licensed poker websites.
Be assured PPA will monitor the situation for any potential anti-poker actions.
Time for Action
With this year’s Presidential and congressional elections (mostly) over, it is important that we all take time to tell our elected representatives to support our right to play. We have a fight in Congress to block Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to ban online poker, and we have a fight in the states to promote passage of legislation authorizing our game. We need all hands on deck.
At the federal level, we have to push back against any potential effort in Congress to pass a ban on state-licensed poker websites during the lame duck session. We must also continue mounting a strong defense against any efforts next year -- legislatively or from the executive branch -- to infringe on our game. This means we all need to continue telling these lawmakers to support us.
At the state level, Pennsylvania just wrapped up this year’s legislative session. The House passed legislation that authorized online poker and other online gaming while also fixing a casino tax issue that was found unconstitutional by the PA Supreme Court. The Senate, conversely, sought merely to pass a fix to the casino tax issue while punting on the question on online poker. Needless to say, the Senate version would have removed much of the urgency from passing online poker.
The session expired with no action on either online poker or the casino tax issue. I believe the activism from the Pennsylvania poker community, facilitated by PPA, helped keep the legislature from passing a gaming bill that excluded us. PPA helped to direct several hundred phone calls directly to PA lawmakers by calling our membership and patching them through to their lawmakers. The poker community also delivered thousands of tweets, Facebook posts, and letters to Keystone state lawmakers.
The PA legislature meets again in January, with is right around the corner. New York’s legislature kicks off its 2017 session in January as well. Michigan, California, Massachusetts, and other states are on the short list of states primed to take action on poker, and we will be keeping the pressure on for poker across the country.
Let's tell President-elect Donald Trump to oppose federal efforts to shut down state-licensed poker websites via a quick note on his website seeking suggestions.
Webcast: Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny
On a recent webcast, PPA Minnesota State Director Mike Qualley returned to the program to discuss the elections, his meetings with state lawmakers, Sheldon Adelson's push to ban online poker, and the state-by-state poker fight. Please be sure to check it out.
- Directly downloadable MP3 file (right click to save, left click to listen)
- Listen/download from iTunes
Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny airs live Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT on OnTilt Radio. Each show features great guests and the best discussion on poker legislation. Please be sure to tune in every Tuesday evening at www.ontiltradio.com.
PPA at Chad Brown Memorial Tournament
Last month, PPA attended the first ever PokerStars Festival in New Jersey. The weeklong tournament series featured numerous online and live events for poker players. The highlight of the week was the Chad Brown Memorial Poker Tournament that PPA proudly supported. PPA Executive Director John Pappas, PA State Director Judah Rosenstein, and NY State Director Randy Hagen teamed up with poker celebrities including Jason Somerville, Daniel Negreanu, and Vanessa Selbst to honor Chad’s memory and raise $70,000 for the TJ Martell Foundation.
It was a great opportunity to talk with the pros, but also with several players from New York and Pennsylvania who traveled to Atlantic City to participate in the event. Needless to say, those two states are high priorities for PPA, so direct interaction with these players was valuable and insightful.
Most of all, it was fun. As Steve Ruddock noted in USPoker.com the event captured what is right about the game of poker.
PPA Executive Director John Pappas, Daniel Negreanu, NY State Director Randy Hagen and PA State Director Judah Rosenstein
Help Fund the Fight
A critical factor to winning the poker fight is through your financial support. We may have a billionaire fighting us, but the numbers are on our side. If you can make even a small contribution to PPA, you can help ensure our ability as a community to continue taking the fight to Adelson and his minions on Capitol Hill.
While Sheldon Adelson continues to follow through with his pledge to “spend whatever it takes” in his effort to ban online poker, our organized fight back will ensure lawmakers know where the American people truly are on this issue.
Thanks to the terrific generosity of Two Plus Two Publishing, PPA is able to provide donors with a downloadable PPA edition of the acclaimed book, Fundamentals of Poker, authored by Mason Malmuth and Lynne Loomis. For your copy, simply email PPA at email@example.com.
Whether you are a novice poker player looking to learn a new poker game or a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on your fundamentals, this book is a terrific resource for any poker player. I hope you enjoy this e-book, either for yourself or as a superb primer for a friend or loved one new to the game.