The PPA Still Doesn’t Get It: Reshaping the Online Poker Regulation Message

That's funny. Yeah that guy right there. He thinks I care about the 'right' for Americans to play online poker. No seriously. Yep, that's way up my administration's priority list--it's right behind our economy, Libya, and Afghanistan.

That was easy. Thanks PPA.

Earlier today, we submitted the PPA‘s letters to President Obama and our local representative through their Action Center.

We just had to make our adjustments to the messaging, because the PPA still doesn’t get it.

While their intentions are in the right place and we’ll never knock the PPA for creating some organized effort (and a no-excuses easy method for you to participate) in communicating with your elected officials, their messaging is wrong, and ultimately it hurts online poker’s credibility and legitimacy.

The PPA is primarily making online poker regulation (and subsequently, the DoJ indictments) about personal freedom and liberties. But if the information unsealed in the DoJ indictments is accurate, then laws were broken and penalties should be paid. PokerStars, Full Tilt, and AP/UB allegedly laundered a lot of money. And they allegedly committed bank fraud. So let’s go barking to U.S. Government officials about attacks and assaults on our personal freedoms, OK? The politicians don’t care.

What they do care about is money. And creating jobs for their constituents.

Here’s our take at the PPA message. First, we’re posting the PPA’s public draft to the Attorney General and President Obama. Second, we’re posting what our message is–and what we suggest you send in its place.

At the end, we’ll link to the PPA’s Action Center so you can submit to President Obama and your local rep. There is no excuse not to–and we do credit the PPA for at least providing all poker players the platform to communicate.

We just suggest copying and pasting our message instead.

More after the jump…

The PPA Message

As a voter, constituent, and poker player, I am writing to ask for your support in defending my right to play poker on the Internet.

Specifically, I ask that you support legislation to license and regulate Internet poker.

While it is true that an estimated $42 billion can be raised over ten years through regulation and taxation of Internet gaming, for me the primary issues are ones of personal freedom and consumer protection.  The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), signed into law in 2006, attempts to tell me — and my bank — how I can spend my money.  This ridiculous law has been roundly criticized and is no more effective than alcohol prohibition was ninety years ago.  Despite the UIGEA, today more than ten million Americans have online poker accounts.  We all welcome the additional consumer protections a U.S. regulated industry would provide.

WiredSafety, the world’s largest Internet safety, help and education resource, commissioned an in-depth study of this issue which was conducted by Harvard University.  This groundbreaking study — “Can Internet Gambling Be Effectively Regulated? Managing the Risks” — examined issues like blocking of underage participation, prevention of money laundering, and providing of consumer protections against fraud and abuse.  The authors concluded that “establishment of a well-regulated industry under U.S. jurisdiction would offer far better protection against online gambling’s potential social harms than outright prohibition” and that “consumers in the United States would be better protected than they are now” under a regulated system.  The study can be found at  I hope you and your staff will take the time to read this important report.

Online poker licensing would provide for sensible regulation of Internet poker and put the U.S. in charge of safeguarding its citizens.  Additionally, licensing would mandate rigorous safeguards against underage participation and protections for those with excessive gaming habits while providing consumer protections for the millions of Americans who play Internet poker every day.  It would also permit American based companies to participate in the world’s Internet poker market, bringing needed jobs to our shores.  As a benefit of this good public policy, licensing of online poker would raise significant revenue for both state and federal governments without raising taxes.  In these difficult economic times, our government should be capturing the Internet poker tax dollars that are currently going overseas to other countries that regulate the activity.

I look forward to your response on this issue.  I hope that I, along with my over one million fellow Poker Players Alliance members, can count on your support.

Thank you for your consideration.


As a voter and tax-paying constituent, I am writing to ask for you to support the licensing and regulation of online poker in the United States.

The recent DoJ indictments of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker only underscores the tremendous opportunity that exists right now for the U.S. Government (and its citizens) to benefit from the regulation of online poker.

Online poker is estimated to generate over $42 billion in tax revenue over the next 10 years and create over 37,000 domestic jobs.

Along with tax and job creation, regulating online poker provides consumer protection safeguards that have not existed in the past.

In short, Federal online poker regulation is fairly cut & dry:

  1. Online poker regulation will “repatriate” funds and generate tax revenues.
  2. Online poker regulation will stimulate business by creating tens of thousands of domestic jobs.
  3. Online poker regulation protects children and adults by creating safeguards for participation.
  4. Online poker regulation protects the consumer by enforcing safety standards.

If you support generating tax revenue WITHOUT increasing taxes, as well as creating domestic jobs instead of outsourcing them, you will support the licensing and regulation of online poker. If you do not, you will lose my vote in the 2012 election.


And that’s that. We suggest modifying the above for the representative response as well.



5 Responses

  1. matt tag

    April 25, 2011 11:36 am, Reply

    please don’t use “cut and dry”. First of all, the correct phrase is “cut and dried”. Secondly, the phrase itself is colloquial and not appropriate for formal writing. Consider revising to “In short, Federal online poker regulation will provide the following benefits”.

  2. Krista

    May 20, 2011 12:19 pm, Reply

    The online poker sites did not clearly break any laws.  First, in order for them to have “laundered money”, they would have to use that money for illegal purposes.  So if poker is not illegal gambling then they could not possibly have laundered money.  You cannot launder clean money, after all.  Is poker clearly gambling or clearly illegal under US law?  That is not clear at all.  Second, if you want to claim that they committed bank fraud, you have to have them defrauding somebody OUT OF something of value.  Fraud is only a crime if the “victim” loses something, ie is defrauded of something.  Who lost something of value here?  The banks made money.  The players got the entertainment that they paid for.  There is no fraud here as far as I can tell.  

  3. USApokergrinder

    May 20, 2011 1:48 pm, Reply

    Jobs are important but IMO our rights and personal freedom trumps pandering to politicians.   The online poker industry was doing pretty well and created jobs for thousands if not more whether they were grinders, IT techs, coaches, writers, marketers, etc.  Black Friday negatively impacted EXISTING jobs.  More importantly, online poker is not illegal unless you live in a state that has explicitly outlawed online poker.  So for the govt to seize accounts and block access for all US players is a tremendous overreach/abuse of power.  The guilt of the defendants has not been adjudicated.  But even assuming they are guilty, the DOJ had/has no right to prevent players from playing freerolls or playing with money in existing accounts.  Pokerstars and Fulltilt had the best traffic and technology that US players will not be allowed to utilize.  Do not minimize the stripping of fundamental rights afforded US citizens.

  4. Anonymous

    June 1, 2011 1:05 pm, Reply

    As for the offshore companies, yes they apparently committed fraud by representing the payments made to them as purchases of goods rather than as poker deposits. We were all — including Obama, who apparently played micro stakes at PokerStars — complicit in that. But it must be noted that this occurred only because the Senate snuck UIGEA through as a rider to the Safe Ports Act and Bush did not veto the rider. If the government had just left things alone none of this would be happening.

    Of course the government stuck its nose in because of taxes (or lack thereof), but though I am admittedly not a geek I cannot believe that the government could not have come up with a mechanism for tracking and taxing winnings and I am certain that if the sites knew that they either cooperate with that or the government would shut them down, they would have cooperated. So I have no problem with the government garnering revenue from online poker.

    What I do have a problem with is government regulation of poker. It’s our game. Poker grew up outside of government regulations and that’s where it belongs. 

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