The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has put together a list of 22 politicians who are up for election next week and have in some way come out against poker or online gambling recently, calling them “The Jokers.” The list includes gubernatorial candidates, along with candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives, and other politicians.
On the PPA page devoted to roasting these politicians, the organization states that “it’s time to take the jokers out of the deck.”
“Below you will find state and federal lawmakers who have two things in common: 1) they are all up for election in 2014, and 2) they all want to deny your right to play Internet poker,” the page says. “Over the past year, these ‘jokers’ have advocated for federal and/or state prohibitions for Internet poker. Some have even sought to criminalize those who play.”
PPA Asks Members to Make Their Voices Heard
The PPA doesn’t say anywhere on the page that poker players should be voting against the candidates listed on the page, and there’s no information provided about their opponents. However, it’s clear that the page is advocating against those listed, and the PPA has asked its members to contact the lawmakers in order to make it clear that the poker community is opposed to their stances on the game.
Contact information can be found by clicking on images of each of the targeted candidates. The profiles also offer brief snippets of information on why each person was chosen for the list.
At the top of the page are two national politicians who have sponsored bills that would ban online gambling (including poker) nationally: Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). Both have supported legislation pushed by Sheldon Adelson, known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, that would create a federal prohibition on most forms of Internet wagering.
Republicans Make Up Majority of List
Republicans dominate the list, with 17 of the 22 politicians profiled coming from the GOP. This is perhaps to be expected: while poker and gambling issues aren’t necessarily a traditionally partisan battleground, Adelson is a major Republican donor, and the most recent party platform does include support for a prohibition of Internet gambling.
Other prominent Republicans on the list include Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is in a tough reelection fight, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Both have publicly supported bills to ban online poker.
That said, five Democrats are also on the list for their statements and actions that oppose the goals of the PPA. Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley may be the most prominent. According to her profile on the PPA Jokers page, she is on the list for making “multiple public statements against online poker and gaming.” Four Democratic Representatives are also on the list, including Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Illinois).
Not all of the politicians on the list are national figures, however. State Representative Mario Scavello (R-Monroe County) made the list because of a proposal he made to criminalize not just running online poker games, but making simply playing in them a misdemeanor crime. That move was widely criticized in the poker community, though it did gain the support of Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.