Just because the United States Congress is away from Capitol Hill on its month-long August recess doesn’t mean that work hasn’t stopped trying to legalize online poker in the U.S. On Tuesday, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) announced that it is setting up shop in Denver on August 26th, during the 2008 Democratic National Convention which begins the day before. The Convention will officially name Illinois Senator Barack Obama as its nomination for President of the United States. The PPA will host a fundraiser for paralyzed veterans at Coors Field in the Mile High City.
Scheduled to appear at the fundraiser are actor Ben Affleck and poker pros Barry Greenstein and Andy Bloch. The three, and others in attendance, will duel it out in a charity poker tournament with a 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event seat on the line. In a press statement for the tournament that was distributed on Tuesday, PPA Chairman and former three-term Senator from New York Alfonse D’Amato noted, “PPA is honored to host this charity poker tournament and looks forward to raising a lot of money for these American heroes. This is a great opportunity to harness the popularity of the game of poker in order to raise much needed funds for those who have fought to protect our country and our individual freedoms – paralyzed vets.”
A reception will kick off the evening on the club level of Coors Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Colorado Rockies, at 9:30pm. Thirty minutes later, the tournament will commence. Four levels of sponsorship packages exist and are being coordinated by the PPA’s public relations firm, The Herald Group. Each level of sponsorship allows its purchasers to be able to play in the tournament. Individual spectator seats start at $250.
PPA Executive Director John Pappas told Poker News Daily, “In addition to advocacy, one of the most important things that the PPA does is help raise funds for worthy causes. We are able to leverage the popularity of poker in order to help raise thousands of dollars for charities like the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and Hortons Kids, while at the same time highlighting the generosity of the poker community. I think this broadens the public’s perception of online poker and puts poker players in a very positive light.”
The notion of being able to build goodwill for online poker in the United States will be important if any of the pro-internet gambling bills currently lying in wait in Congress is to be passed. The PPA and other industry advocate groups are battling opposition from Republicans led by Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who gave the following quote in a House Financial Services Committee hearing in June: “Some claim that illegal Internet gambling is a victimless crime. But whatever else is said about it, it is a crime and its most vulnerable victims are the young people who by the tens of thousands it exposes to the risk of becoming compulsive, addictive gamblers. Study after study shows that the earlier one begins gambling, the more likely he or she will become a problem gambler. Exposing children to gambling in their bedrooms and dorm rooms at a young age dramatically increases that risk.”
By organizing a charity tournament in the middle of the Democratic National Convention, the PPA is able to create goodwill in the presence of many of the leading members of that party in the United States. As it stands now, both the House of Representatives and Senate are controlled by the Democrats. The entire House and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election on November 4th.