Let the battle lines be drawn. Several days after the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) issued a petition to reverse the Commerce Casino’s stance against pro-internet gambling legislation in the United States, more casinos have come onboard to strike down the bill.
In a letter issued to the press late Friday night from Commerce Casino Board members Tom Malkasian and Haig Papaian, it was revealed that the Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens, and Hollywood Park also oppose Congressman Barney Frank’s (D-MA) HR 2267. None of the three additional casinos was quoted in any way.
Calling industry lobbying groups like the PPA “special interest groups receiving funds from illegal offshore gaming operators,” Malkasian and Papaian assert, “Poker players deserve to know the real facts so let us be clear: We support online poker and we are working hard to make sure it will benefit all Americans. America’s poker community should be united in opposing the Frank legislation that would ship jobs, revenue, and taxes beyond our communities. We need to work together to keep American dollars at home.”
The authors of the letter claim to employ more than 20,000 workers in California, a state that has been hit with a massive budget shortfall. It also cites a 2008 study from the California Public Policy institute saying that 70% of California residents use the internet and “according to another study in 2009, Californians wager an estimated $13.4 billion annually. That makes California the largest internet gaming market in the world, and without state legislation to protect it, critically-needed billions will be captured by offshore and out-of-state operators never to return.”
On Friday, PPA Executive Director John Pappas told Poker News Daily that 6,000 players had signed an online petition found at PlayersBeforeProfits.com to reverse the Commerce Casino’s stance. The organization was gunning for 10,000 names in total.
In response to the press release from the Commerce Casino Board members, UB.com pro Annie Duke chided via Twitter, “Your press release might be more credible if you got the bill number correct. It’s HR 2267.” The press release cites the Commerce Casino’s opposition to HR 4976, the tax companion bill to HR 2267 proposed by Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA). However, Malkasian’s testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee last month was wholeheartedly against Frank’s HR 2267.
In reaction to the harsh opposition set forth by the Commerce Casino, Pappas commented, “There are requirements in HR 2267 that companies set up at least 50% of their operations in the United States. On their concern of illegal operators, anyone who has been operating illegally won’t be able to get a license. It’s pretty clear their only concern is that they don’t want to compete.” A dozen amendments were added to HR 2267 in a markup hearing held one month ago to the day addressing many of the Commerce Casino’s concerns.
The Commerce Casino’s statements wraps up by saying, “We strongly support poker-only legislation. California lawmakers should be the first to bring an illegal enterprise under legal supervision, provide needed consumer protections, and capture revenue that can benefit our state first.” An e-mail address of [email protected] is given for players looking for additional information.
Among the 6,000 poker players that have signed the PPA’s online petition are Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Erick Lindgren, Joe Sebok, and new PokerStars pro David Williams. All that’s required to sign is your name, city, and state. The PPA has even gone so far as to provide an avenue for players to Tweet the Commerce Casino automatically. Alternately, you can leave your telephone number and the PPA will personally patch you through to the Commerce Casino.
The addition of the Bike, Hawaiian Gardens, and Hollywood Park may open the rift even further between online poker players seeking legislation and the brick-and-mortar casinos they placate. Calls for a boycott of the Commerce have surfaced and many of the aforementioned “illegal offshore gaming operators” sponsor pros like Ivey, Duke, and Sebok through their dot-net counterparts. The Bike and Commerce both hold World Poker Tour events, with the former fresh off crowning a champion in the Legends of Poker.
Stay tuned to Poker News Daily on Sunday for an exclusive response from Pappas.