January 10, 2013 : LOBBYISTS SWITCHING FOCUS TO STATE-BY-STATE POKER LEGALISATION
PPA exec says 70-30 percent focus on federal legalization has now reversed to favour state-by-state solution
The latest failure to achieve federal legalization of online poker, albeit at the cost of other forms of online gambling, has probably influenced US lobbyists to focus more on a state-by-state solution than a federal one, says Poker Player Alliance executive director John Pappas in an interview this week with Poker News.
“I think the tables have flipped, where it used to be a 70-30 focus on federal, I think now it will be more like 30-70,” Pappas told the publication. “The PPA is really looking at the state opportunities for 2013 and making sure we are in a position to impact any bills moving at the state level.”
California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Iowa are the most likely initiators of online poker regulatory regimes after those of New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, Pappas opined, with Pennsylvania and Maryland possible in the future.
Pappas gave his views on the possibility of another federal push, pointing out that with Senator Jon Kyl retired and out of the picture the burden of drumming up Republican support would fall squarely on the less senior and influential Sen. Dean Heller.
“It's going to be really tough sledding to get a bill done in 2013 at the federal level,” Pappas told Poker News. “I think it's a combination of things, one being that there is no clear Republican ring leader aside from Heller, who's been great but having two people from gaming states leading this issue is probably not the combination that's going to equal success.”
A state-by-state solution to the legalization issue will inevitably be slower in terms of triggering similar moves in other states, and there are concerns regarding the compatibility of regulations framed independently by different states. The size of state populations will also dictate the size of player pools unless interstate compacts can be achieved.
Pappas referred to the suspense over the recent New Jersey legalization, which seeks to legalise intrastate online gambling but still awaits the signature of governor Chris Christie, who vetoed a previous attempt. The governor has until February 3 to sign the measure into state law.
“The most important thing right now is New Jersey and getting that bill signed by the governor,” Pappas said. “It's somewhat frustrating that we don't have a clear signal on which way it's going to go. From the grassroots side, we've been pounding his office on a daily basis the last few weeks urging him to sign the bill.”
Estimates are that once Christie signs the bill, the first online poker sites could be operational within six months, a date that could coincide with plans by Delaware and Nevada to go operational with their online poker and gambling initiatives.
Pappas says that his organisation will now concentrate on California, a state that could provide the most player liquidity if Sen. Rod Wright's latest attempt at legalising online poker is successful .
“The big crown jewel of all of this is California, so I think a lot of emphasis will be made on doing serious grassroots [work] in California to demonstrate to lawmakers there that there is a voter appeal to these types of proposals,” Pappas said.
“One thing that has always hurt the chances in California is infighting between the tribes,” he added. “Unfortunately, we don't have much control over how that plays out, but I've heard from a number of sources that a lot of the tribal dysfunction has been resolved and that many of those once opposed should now be on board. That should clear a path I think for California to be a real leader of this in 2013.”
Pappas told Poker News that the PPA wants to start identifying potential states where legalization hasn't been pursued in the past but could be in the future.
“We certainly could mimic some of the things we've done at the federal level in terms of fly-ins, paid advertisements, letters to the editor, op-eds and media placements in a variety of papers throughout the states from a poker players perspective,” Pappas said. “There are a number of ways to ramp up the grassroots and activity, and we're considering all of those.”
Read the full article here: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2013/01/online-poker-lobbyists-will-shift-focus-from-federal-14115.htm