The World Series of Poker timeframe represents a unique publicity opportunity where world interest is focused on the game of poker, and the one million members strong Poker Players Alliance intends to exploit it.
The organisation announced this week that it will launch a voter registration effort during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, which begins May 31 and runs through November, with the aim of rallying support for reversing or blocking federal and state laws that prohibit gambling on online poker.
The campaign is centred on the slogan "If you play, have a say," with messaging and strategy developed by the Herald Group, which is also providing media outreach and other tactical communications support. PPA has already launched a Web site, www. poker-2008.org, where players can download forms and get information on voter registration.
Outreach timed for the 39th annual poker series will include speaking with trade magazines; posting comments on the online poker message boards where players discuss poker strategy, legalization, and other issues; running online, print, and possibly TV ads; and posting videos featuring top poker pros on social networking sites, such as Facebook and You Tube.
Formed in 2005, the PPA is flourishing, thanks to funding from individuals and Canada-based industry trade group Interactive Gaming Council, according to PPA executive director John Pappas. Membership was further enhanced by the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, which, among other things, bans online gambling financial transactions, he added.
"Out of this has sprung a political constituency that [we've] tapped into to influence public policy in Washington," Pappas said. "And we've found that one of the best things we can do is not only lobby members [to] send letters to members of Congress, and attend town hall meetings, but get players registered and active on election days."
The PPA is encouraging members and other players around the country to support legalization currently proposed like Congressman Frank's IGREA, that would regulate online gambling to prevent play by minors or "problem" players.
Outreach during the WSOP, which annually attracts tens of thousands of players and is broadcast on ESPN, will include a booth and online terminals for registration, advertising, and still-to-be-determined public events.
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