PPA’s John Pappas Clarifies Federal Poker Bill Stance

Posted on October 13th, 2014 by Jon Pineda
John Pappas PPA online gambling

Executive Director John Pappas clarified the PPA’s stance on online gambling legislation, saying it’s not for a casino game ban unless poker players get something more out of it. (Image: wickedchopspoker.com)

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas clarified his group’s stance on federal online gambling legislation late last week, saying that the organization hasn’t significantly changed its feelings on Internet poker legislation in recent days. That statement came after a report that left many thinking that the PPA would no longer support any bill that only allowed for online poker, and not for other online casino games.

But it seems that the PPA’s feelings on the subject were a bit more nuanced than the original reports would suggest. While the PPA isn’t interested in promoting a ban on any form of gambling, it will still prioritize poker over other games, especially if it comes to last-ditch compromises that might allow for the regulation of online poker on the federal level.

Federal Poker Bill Would Be Supported, Even With Casino Ban

While that might sound like the PPA is saying they were for a ban before they were against it, Pappas says that it’s more a matter of what poker players would get out of such a deal.

“If there was a bill that banned online casino games, but legalized online poker at the federal level, we would support that all day long,” Pappas told NJ.com in an interview on the subject. “The PPA is going to stand with supporting poker over other forms of gambling.”

According to Pappas, the PPA will not support the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill that has been pushed by Sheldon Adelson, even if the bill ends up featuring an exception for poker. But if such a bill actively created a framework for legalizing and regulating online poker at the federal level, that would be a different story, as that would be an improvement for poker players.

But RAWA would not do that, even with the rumored poker carve-out that might appear in a bill over the lame duck session of Congress later this year. Such a bill would seek to actively ban Internet casino games, while not changing the status of poker one bit, which wouldn’t help poker players, but would hurt the iGaming industry as a whole, which could end up being a negative for even online poker in the long run.

“We as a poker community need to recognize that the success of poker often is built on other forms of gaming,” Pappas said in his earlier comments to PokerNews.com. “If you cut off all other games in the US market, investment and interest would shrink considerably. We’re going to fight tooth and nail to protect the interests of poker players, but poker-only in the US might not be a sustainable model to benefit players long-term.”

Rumors of Lame Duck Bill Circulate

Pappas’ comments were prompted by rumors that legislators might vote on a version of Adelson’s bill after the November elections. While it’s not certain that this will occur, and even less likely that such a bill would pass, Pappas still urged stakeholders to be vigilant during the lame duck session.

“There’s certainly opportunity for some shenanigans to happen, and everyone in the gaming industry should be keeping a close watch on what Congress may do,” Pappas said.

In his clarification, Pappas reiterated that the PPA would be most pleased with the federal regulation of all online gambling. However, he said that if there were a bill that would legalize online poker across the country while simultaneously banning other Internet casino games, the PPA would support it “all day long.” An even better solution, he says, would be for Congress to regulate online poker, while leaving other online casino games untouched, allowing individual states to determine what each one wanted to allow.

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