Just a couple of weeks ago, Congress adjourned for 2016 and, despite the wishes of Sheldon Adelson and his cronies on Capitol Hill, none of the year-end legislation included language shutting down state-licensed poker websites. Additionally, as this session of Congress has concluded, the four anti-online poker bills that were introduced in the 114th Congress -- H.R. 707, H.R. 6453, S. 1668 and S. 3376 -- have expired and will have to be reintroduced by their backers in the new session of Congress if they plan to pursue their ill-conceived ban plan this year.
At the state level, we enter 2017 with several states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York, primed for action legislatively to license and regulate online poker.
That being said, Adelson is not going away. To the contrary, Adelson donated tens of millions of dollars this election cycle and it is clear that he feels empowered by the results and, more importantly, seems to feel entitled to get what he thinks he paid for. Sadly, we see some lawmakers going along with this. Recently, ten state attorneys general signed a letter asking anti-poker Vice President-elect Mike Pence to push the incoming administration to support an online poker ban. And, we saw 27 congressmen and nine senators sponsor or cosponsor one or more of the four bills that sought to ban online poker.
So, it is clear that 2017 brings many opportunities, but it also brings some challenges. Will you do your part to give poker the best chance possible? Please be sure to join us at the Poker Daily Action Plan, and please be sure to help support the fight financially. Thanks.
New Anti-Poker Attorneys General Letter
As I mentioned above, a few weeks ago PPA obtained a copy of a letter signed by ten state attorneys general asking anti-poker Vice President-elect Mike Pence to push the incoming administration to support shutting down state-licensed poker websites and banning new ones. Needless to say, this push comes straight from Las Vegas Sands Corp. and its CEO, poker public enemy #1 Sheldon Adelson.
The letter is the standard fare, long on hyperbole and free of data. It includes no evidence of a single underage or out-of-state player. In fact, the letter cites no evidence of any issues at all with state-licensed poker websites.
The good news is that 40 state attorneys general rejected this letter. The bad news is that this illustrates the lengths to which Adelson will go to get a nationwide online poker ban. Again, he donated tens of millions of dollars this election cycle and clearly intends to get what he feels he paid for.
In one of the more interesting cases, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt signed onto the letter. As the letter claims state-licensed poker websites allow underage and out-of-state play, one wonders what steps Laxalt took as attorney general if he truly believes the Nevada-licensed site permits such activity. Did Laxalt contact Nevada Gov. Sandoval with any concerns? How about the Nevada Gaming Control Board? Did Laxalt launch an investigation? He is, after all, the attorney general of the state. Why, if this is supposedly so horrendous, did the letter not include a single data point from Laxalt or the nine other attorneys general?
I reached out to Laxalt and, unsurprisingly, he did not seem interested in replying. Nevada journalist Jon Ralston did not get a comment either, but he did get comments from the offices of Gov. Sandoval and Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett, both of whom strongly oppose Laxalt’s position. Nevada Rep. Dina Titus also came out publicly against this letter as well.
Anti-poker Pennsylvania state Senator Tommy Tomlinson is pushing a narrative that online poker cannibalizes bricks-and-mortar casinos. PPA published a detailed open letter from Executive Director John Pappas to Sen. Tomlinson on this important matter that I encourage you to take a moment to read.
Poker in Texas Promotional Tournament
Last month, I joined PPA Texas State Director Matt Allen, Poker in Texas Executive Director Corey Nation, and Andrew “Luckychewy” Lichtenberger in Austin, TX for a Poker in Texas promotional poker tournament.
Poker in Texas is an advocacy organization working to bring poker to the Lone Star State. While they promote all forms of poker, their focus this year has largely been on the bricks-and-mortar game.
It was a terrific event that I hope will help keep Texas in Texas Hold ’em.
Me, Matt Allen, and Corey Nation
Corey Nation, Andrew “LuckyChewy” Lichtenberger and me
A week following the event, Matt and Corey joined me live on my Poker Advocacy webcast to discuss the tournament, the fight for poker in Texas, and poker activism. Please be sure to check it out.
Please take a moment to send the PPA prewritten, fully editable letter to your Congressman, both of your Senators, and the President. It takes just 60 seconds. Ensure your elected representatives know you want lawmakers to support your right to play poker, and please ask your friends and family to do the same. Thanks.
Webcast: Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny
On a recent webcast, longtime gaming activist J. Todd joined me live to discuss the anti-poker letter from ten state attorneys general to anti-poker VP-elect Mike Pence, the current political climate and poker activism. Please be sure to check it out.
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.
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.