PPA chairman reminds US lawmakers that millions of players have made their wishes known.
Writing in an op-ed article in the Washington DC publication Politico this week, the chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, former Senator Alphonse D'Amato reminded US lawmakers that large numbers of American poker fans have repeatedly demanded that internet poker be legalised and regulated.
D'Amato points out that in addition to ongoing demands, there have been two highly publicised internet petitions in which players have made their views known.
Under the liberty and freedom section of the new GOP website America Speaking Out, more Americans voted to legalise Internet poker than weighed in on any other issue, D'Amato notes, adding that in an earlier initiative when then president-elect Barack Obama solicited ideas on his new website, www.change.gov, legalising Internet poker was one of the two top issues.
"It would be easy to dismiss this as a coincidence or as a manufactured grass-roots campaign, but there is more to this story," D'Amato writes. "There are plenty of issues that face the American people and plenty of big trade groups to push those issues.
"But it takes real passion to get people to take valuable time out of their day to log on to these websites, give up a portion of their privacy and cast their vote for an issue. So it is extraordinary that making Internet poker legal consistently ranks as a top issue for the American people."
The former Senator goes on to comment that it is fashionable these days for politicians to ask for voters’ input about what they want from their government, but he asks: "When will it become fashionable for these politicians to actually listen to the voters?"
He describes the current position, where the government has tried to prohibit online poker by deputising U.S. banks to play the morality police [via the UIGEA] as "bizarre."
"Proponents of the law say that it helps deter kids from playing poker in their bedrooms. But there is little evidence to suggest that this law has deterred kids from playing poker," D'Amato opines. "In fact, playing Internet poker is still easy to do for just about everybody. Instead of playing in a more regulated industry, the law has created an environment where there is no federal oversight — because there are no U.S. companies to regulate.
"By refusing to regulate this industry, the federal government has also decided to refuse to tax it. That means that billions of dollars in potential tax revenue go uncollected. This is just about the only industry I know of that has basically begged to be taxed — only to be ignored by politicians who refuse to listen to the desires of the American people," he adds.
D'Amato describes the latest [HR2267] federal attempt to legalise online poker, describing the initiative in supportive terms.
"These are positive signs that somebody, somewhere, in Congress is starting to listen to the desires of the American people," he writes.
"The freedom to play poker is not one of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. But when the Founding Fathers conceived of a new nation, they never dreamed that someday Congress would dream up a law to ban that particular freedom — especially when such a ban was so clearly against the wishes of the American people.
"What the Founders did envision was a government that would necessarily listen to the wishes and demands of those who sent them to Washington in the first place.
"The American people are saying loudly and clearly: ‘Repeal this silly law.' The question today is: Are the politicians listening?"