4/16/10 – Playing poker for a good cause, there was a good turnout of Capitol Hill lawmakers at this week's charity poker tournament in Washington DC organised by the Poker Players Alliance and poker siblings Annie Duke and Howard "The Professor" Lederer.
The event, in aid of the Ante Up for Africa charity, gave the politicians a chance to hobnob with international poker stars and raised $70 000, with Full Tilt Poker donating a $10 000 seat at this year's World Series of Poker main event as the big prize.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, which recently signed an online fantasy sports deal with Hubbub's subsidiary FanDuel, reported on the event, asking Lederer if there was any substance to Financial Times reports that a Manhattan grand jury probe had been mentioned in conjunction with his and other aces names and Full Tilt Poker (see previous InfoPowa report)
Lederer appeared relaxed, saying that it was news to him.
The newspaper noted that those attending the charity event included supporters of new attempts to legalise US online gambling by Congressman Barney Frank.
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat who has introduced a proposal to regulate online poker, commented: "None of that [regulated protection of players] exists under the present system right now. You have offshore entities. You don't necessarily have honesty and transparency on many of those sites. You certainly don't have any revenue coming to the United States. And you do nothing about compulsive gambling."
Menendez sits on the Senate Finance Committee, and his proposal mirrors similar legalization introduced by Frank focused on online gambling in general that has 66 House sponsors so far.
Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Barton from Texas – a poker fan who supports federal oversight of online poker – was there too, saying: "I am a proponent of allowing people over 21 that want to play poker on the Internet to at least do so," he said.
Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas told the Inquirer: "[Legalisation is] not going to be an easy thing to do because it's an election year, but if you have the right people who want to do two things: license and regulate those games which should be legal, like poker, but also make sure [enforcement against] illegal activities that they don't want – sports betting, for instance – is strengthened, then agreement is possible."
The newspaper explores recent statements by the American Gaming Association, which represents the commercial land gaming industry, and once questioned whether technological safeguards existed to adequately make Internet gambling regulation feasible. Now, the AGA says it "acknowledges that a properly regulated legal framework for Internet gambling is the best way to protect consumers."
"I think [the AGA's position] is a key indicator of what's happening in Las Vegas in the minds of the key Las Vegas members of Congress," Pappas told the Inquirer. "I think we'll probably see a movement in the Senate to push this thing . . . along with what's happening in the House."