With the regulation of online poker a hot topic on Capitol Hill this week, Poker Players Alliance (PPA) chairman Alfonse D’Amato was eager to voice his opinion in support of poker players in the United States. In his piece titled, On poker, are politicians listening? on politico.com, D’Amato spoke out on subjects such as the taxation of online poker, the government acting on behalf of U.S. banks, and the intentions of our Founding Fathers.
D’Amato opened his editorial by mentioning the popularity of poker and the amount of support it has received following the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Said D’Amato, “Under the liberty and freedom section of the new GOP website America Speaking Out, more Americans voted to legalize Internet poker than weighed in on any other issue. That should come as no surprise. When President-elect Barack Obama solicited ideas on his new website, www.change.gov, legalizing Internet poker was one of the two top issues.”
Poker players around the country have rallied behind the PPA by calling, writing and e-mailing their State Representatives in order to have their rights protected. The PPA has even set up a pre-written letter to send to a person’s corresponding Congressman. In just a few minutes time a letter can be sent and your voice can be heard.
“It takes real passion to get people to take valuable time out of their day to log onto these websites, give up a portion of their privacy and cast their vote for an issue,” stressed D’Amato. “So it is extraordinary that making Internet poker legal consistently ranks as a top issue for the American people.”
A major problem that poker players have faced for the past couple years has been depositing and withdrawing their own money from online poker sites. Though D’Amato and fellow PPA chairman John Pappas have referred to the execution of the UIGEA as a “bump in the road,” players have seen their checks bounce and deposits have become nearly impossible to complete as online poker sites have tried desperately to weave around the forceful hand of the U.S. government.
“The fact that America has not already regulated Internet poker but has actually tried to prohibit it by deputizing U.S. banks to play the morality police is bizarre,” said D’Amato. “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.
“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.”
D’Amato, Pappas, and Rep. Barney Frank (House Financial Services Committee chairman) have also emphasized the tax benefits the country will receive from the regulation of online poker. With the country in turmoil over its trillion-dollar budget deficit, regulating and taxing online poker could provide some relief over the years.
Said D’Amato, “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.”
Finally, D’Amato talked about where it all started in this country: liberty and freedom. D’Amato referenced the Founding Fathers in the conclusion of his article, saying, “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.”
The House Financial Services Committee hearing on the markup of HR 2267, a bill to provide for the licensing of Internet gambling activities by the Secretary of the Treasury, was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed until Wednesday. It’s not too late to voice your opinion! Visit www.standupforpoker.com/ to send a letter to your State Representative.