On Tuesday at the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Fly-In held as part of National Poker Week, 30 of the organization’s State Directors and a handful of the game’s elite met with Senators and Representatives from around the United States. The goal: Push for the legalization and regulation of online poker in the United States.
Poker News Daily joined poker pro and PokerXFactor instructor Chris “Fox” Wallace as he met with staffers from Representative James Oberstar (R-MN) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN). Congressman Oberstar’s district contains 1,544 PPA members and the lawmaker has a poker-related voting record of “D” according to the one million member strong organization. Wallace sat down with John Schadl, the Communications Director for Congressman Oberstar. Topics included Wallace’s personal story of playing and teaching the game to 300 students from his home in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as well as key stats about the industry.
In the end, Wallace and a lobbyist from the PPA called for Congressman Oberstar to support HR 2266 and HR 2267. The former delays financial services industry compliance with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) by one year until December 1st, 2010. HR 2267 establishes a comprehensive framework to license and regulate internet gambling operators in the United States. It sits at 47 co-sponsors after being introduced on May 6th, although the PPA claims 52 or 53 Congressmen have lent their names to the measure. Schadl called the meeting “very informative” when it concluded and was full of questions.
On the walk from the Rayburn House Office Building to Senator Franken’s office in the Hart Senate Office Building, Poker News Daily caught up with Wallace to get his impressions on the meeting:
Poker News Daily: Give us your thoughts on your conversation with John Schadl, Communications Director for Congressman James Oberstar.
Wallace: I thought it went great and he was very receptive. He didn’t seem to know much about poker, but wanted to learn about it. It seemed like we gave him a good foundation to understand what it is.
PND: Was the conversation what you expected?
Wallace: I actually expected that the person would know a little bit more about the issue and be asking us more technical questions. Schadl was asking us how poker online is played, so it was helpful that we were there to tell him how these things work rather than fight over technical issues in bills.
PND: Were you sufficiently prepared?
Wallace: He didn’t ask any questions that I didn’t know the answers to. I’m not a legal expert, but it seemed to go well. I think he was impressed with how much we knew and how much we were able to help him out with answers to questions. I got the idea that he was on our side by the time we left.
PND: Can anyone educate Congressmen effectively on this issue?
Wallace: People who are not comfortable speaking and people who are not terribly persuasive would have trouble doing it. Knowledge of the issue is really important. I didn’t have to tell him “I don’t know” to any of his questions. While that’s acceptable to do every once in a while, if you did it through a whole meeting, you’d get nowhere.