PPA in Need of Funding to Continue Poker Advocacy

PPA in Need of Funding to Continue Poker Advocacy
Does the poker community value the PPA?

The Poker Players Alliance has been advocating and lobbying for online poker and its players for more than 10 years.

Everyone is not aware of the daily actions of the PPA, the research needed to stay on top of legislation and legal happenings on the federal and state level. The public doesn’t see the conversations with legislators that take place behind closed doors, the research done to stay informed, and the calls made to identify allies. And not many people realize that fundraising to keep the movement alive requires a great deal of effort as well.

Now, the PPA is asking for the public to step up and meet a financial goal so it can stay in operation. This step was likely not taken without a great deal of trepidation and consideration. It can’t be easy.

The Ask

In a press release earlier this month, the PPA noted its financial troubles in passing while announcing that Executive Director John Pappas will step down at the end of February, Rich Muny will step into the role of PPA President, and the organization wants to gauge its members’ feelings about sports betting. Meanwhile, the paragraph that was widely overlooked read:

“Over the past several months, the PPA has been adjusting to a significant reduction in financial support from the internet gaming industry and thusly has refocused its efforts on cost-effective grassroots advocacy. During this time, the organization has not missed a beat and was an instrumental force in the legislation of internet gaming in Pennsylvania this past October.”

Last week, the PPA increased the volume on its plea by again touting the Pennsylvania success, noting that 2018 could be the biggest year yet for online poker in the United States, and saying:

“Unfortunately, funding issues threaten to shut down PPA before we can even get started on the 2018 fight. The threat is real and PPA cannot continue fighting for poker if we do not meet our fundraising goal of $25,000 by the end of March. With support from poker players and enthusiasts like you, we can make this goal.”

The Why

During the poker boom, the PPA was easily able to ask for $20 annual membership fees from the poker community. And poker players and fans alike paid the fee so the PPA could keep fighting for online poker, the biggest beneficiary of the poker boom and the prime reason for the industry’s growth.

Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato was serving as PPA Chairman, bringing even more attention to the group. The PPA set up a booth at the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and drew much attention from players anxious to join the movement. Players quickly stepped up to represent their individual states. The PPA even organized a National Poker Week, during which recreational and professional players took to the hall of Congress in Washington D.C. to lobby legislators. Linda Johnson and Jan Fischer attended, as did Greg Raymer, Dennis Phillips, Annie Duke, and Howard Lederer. (At the time, Duke and Lederer had yet to betray, for lack of a better term, the poker community.) PokerStars and Full Tilt were two of the major sites that also financially supported the organization.

By April 2008, the PPA’s membership surged to more than one million members.

The public saw the potential damage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prompted PartyPoker to leave the US in 2006, and the dire need for legislation to legalize online poker.

In April 2011, Black Friday changed everything. The majority of online poker companies were forced out of the US, leaving players without their funds and companies without their most lucrative market. There was little fight left in most players, drained of their income source and hope for positive poker legislation.

Since that time, donations to the PPA dropped significantly. PokerStars did continue to support the organization, but that partnership led to divisive rhetoric surrounding the battle for online poker in California, as PokerStars was the primary point of contention for many tribal leaders. The PPA stood firmly behind its partner, but with neither side willing to budge, online poker chances diminished quickly and finally died in 2017.

The PPA was in a quandary, however. Continue taking funds from a company to survive? Or placate those in the poker community upset with the alliance by dropping its last major donor? With very few donations going to the PPA at that point, it was a lose-lose situation.

The Need

For more than a decade, the PPA has demonstrated that it spends its money carefully. Pappas never jetted around the country with first-class airline tickets, and there was never an allegation of misappropriated funds. The group hosted poker tournaments for legislators, flew the occasional member of Congress to the WSOP, and put Pappas or Muny on a plane to any state wherein their testimony or personal meetings could possibly create more support for online poker.

The PPA’s site notes, “Every dollar donated will go toward the core operational expenses of our grassroots communications and advocacy, as our communications tools are crucial to PPA’s mission.”

Further, after Black Friday, the PPA was key in working with the US Department of Justice and claims administrator Garden City Group to distribute funds back to victims of Full Tilt Poker, and eventually to the victims of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker as well.

Meanwhile, the group continued to work in every state that offered the chance to legalize online poker – New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, etc. – and succeeded in finalizing internet gaming in Pennsylvania in 2017.

Now, in order to continue the work, the group is asking for $25,000 by the end of March, not a tremendous amount of money in the lobbying world.

The poker community now needs to decide if it will collectively support its singular advocacy group that knows the industry and the political environment better than most. Poker players and enthusiasts have until the end of March to decide.



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 PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

Disclaimer: The information on this site is my interpretation of the laws as made available online. It is in no way meant to serve as legal advice or instruction. We recommend that you seek legal advice from a licensed attorney for further or official guidance.

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