Pappas Leaves Role as PPA Eyes Sports Betting

Pappas Leaves Role as PPA Eyes Sports Betting
Pappas hands control of PPA to Muny

For more than 10 years, John Pappas has served as the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance. He has steered the poker advocacy and lobbying group through its best years during the poker boom and its toughest times after Black Friday. And today, Pappas announced his departure from that key role.

Meanwhile, the organization considers expanding to include sports betting. While there is no announcement about a formal change in the structure or focus of the PPA at this time, overwhelming support of legalized sports betting in a previous survey has prompted the PPA to request that members and supporters answer 10 questions on its website. The answers will help determine the future course of the organization.

In light of the changing environment of the online gambling market as a whole, the PPA is making moves to keep up and reconnect with a membership base.

Pappas Leaves the Spotlight but Stays Close

Pappas has been the face and the voice of the PPA for a decade. He led the group and its one-time base of more than one million members to the halls of the United States Congressional offices to lobby for legislation that would have legalized online poker throughout the US. He spent long days at a booth at the World Series of Poker to encourage membership registration during the poker boom. He hosted meetings and conferences during the Las Vegas summers and flew legislators like former US Representative Barney Frank to the WSOP to meet with donors and tell players to “shuffle up and deal!”

Throughout the past decade, Pappas has jetted across America to meet with state legislators about online poker legislation, given testimony at online gambling hearings at the state and federal levels, and stayed atop news in all 50 states regarding poker possibilities. He kept apprised of Sheldon Adelson’s every move to try to outlaw poker and online gambling, writing counterarguments and compiling statistics to prove the fallacies in the cries from Adelson and his partners in Congress. And he also played an integral role in the facilitation of the US government using PokerStars fines to repay US players who were victims of Full Tilt Poker, UltimateBet, and Absolute Poker after Black Friday.

It was often a thankless job, but Executive Director Pappas did as much as possible to further pro-poker laws and help players in the US.

Today, he announced his departure from that role. However, he will remain on the PPA Board of Directors and serve as a strategic advisor to the organization for the foreseeable future.

“I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA Board of Directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point,” Pappas said. “I will miss working with the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.”

Rich Muny Takes on Presidential Role

With that, the PPA announced that Vice President Rich Muny, who has served the PPA for more than a decade as well, will move into the role of president. He has been integral in many of the successes of the PPA, most recently the legalization of online poker and gambling in Pennsylvania in late 2017.

Muny was already in touch with the poker community on a nearly-daily basis, corresponding with players and legislators alike on social media as well as on the popular poker forums and through a weekly podcast he has spearheaded for several years. The new role of president will put him more squarely in the position to use that communication and constant feedback from the community to direct the PPA going forward.

“I am honored that the PPA Board of Directors and the poker community have entrusted me with this role, and I join my fellow board members in thanking John Pappas for his decade of outstanding leadership in the fight for poker,” Muny said. “I look forward to leading the poker community in this fight, building on the terrific successes of 2017.”

Sports Betting Players Alliance?

Over the past several years, the PPA has begun to advocate for more than just poker, as much of the fight for online poker went hand-in-hand with online casino games. Most states considering online poker want the entirety of online gambling, as the potential for revenue increases exponentially with more games. New Jersey has been a prime example of the benefits of legalizing online gambling as a whole. This has put the PPA in the position of supporting online poker and other casino games in order to ensure the safety of the game of poker.

Recent developments have also indicated that sports betting may be included in that package for some states as well. Pennsylvania authorized sports betting with its online gambling legislation, in the case that sports betting might become legal.

New Jersey has been fighting for sports betting for many years, and it finally took a case to the US Supreme Court in 2017. NJ Governor Chris Christie now awaits the decision from the justices in the coming months, which could allow every state to legalize sports betting online. Several states have already legalized it in case of a positive decision from the court, and more are waiting in the wings to pass laws this year.

The PPA now wants to know the views of its members and supporters about sports betting. Not only did a recent survey reveal that 90% of PPA members supported the regulation of sports betting and other forms of internet gambling besides poker, the PPA knows that many poker players also enjoy betting on sports. The ask involves a survey of 10 questions.

“Unquestionably, there is a growing interest in legal sports betting,” the PPA wrote on its website, “and this year we are likely to see a major change in public policy surrounding the activity. Thusly, the PPA wants to know, 1) how our community views sports betting and the current debate; and, 2) is there a need to organize sports betting enthusiasts in a way that PPA has built a poker advocacy community?”

The PPA emphasized, “To be clear, we are not taking any formal action or position on sports betting at this time. We first want to know what you think.”

The survey and a mailing list can be found on this page of the PPA website.


About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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