It was an announcement that the Poker Players Alliance had been anxious to disclose for more than a few weeks. And with former Senator and current PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato at the Rio to play the Seniors Event at the World Series of Poker, the PPA invited Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley and PPA board members Linda Johnson and Greg Raymer to join him in delivering the message. National Poker Week was announced for July 19-25 and scheduled to include many opportunities to contact lawmakers, whether via online venues or in their offices in Washington, D.C.
The 11 am press conference on June 22 was a bit on the early side for many in the poker community, but members of the major poker media were in attendance to hear the news and gather more details about National Poker Week. First, PPA Executive Director John Pappas introduced D’Amato, who briefly discussed the impact that constituent communication has with members of Congress and the need for action on Rep. Barney Frank’s recently-introduced legislation. Berkley then took to the podium to discuss her role in poker legislation thus far, beginning with her last-minute attempt to stop the UIGEA in 2006 and leading up to her active participation with the current bills.
National Poker Week will be organized for the week of July 19 to 25, 2009. The PPA asks that the poker community not only actively participate in activities during that week as possible but that poker players begin to show their support now.
First, poker enthusiasts and supporters are asked to visit a new website launched on the morning of June 22 called the Poker Petition. The petition is a message to President Barack Obama asking that he help exempt poker from the UIGEA, license and regulate internet poker, and respect those Americans who want to play. With as many signatures as possible, the petition will be delivered to Obama during National Poker Week. As of 11:30am, the petition contained more than 2,000 signatures, and as of 9:00pm that night, there were nearly 8,200.
Second, a website called My Poker Story was unveiled, which is a project of the PPA designed to accept videos – submitted or filmed at the PPA booth at the Rio during the WSOP – to tell some of the wide-ranging stories of how various people found their way into poker. D’Amato is one of the many people who have already shared their stories.
Third, the National Poker Week website was launched, which contains all pertinent information regarding options for how to maximize contributions of the July poker-dedicated week by spreading the word and contacting legislators. One of the activities for the week that was announced was a trip to Washington, D.C., where poker players and fans alike are welcome to join their PPA friends (including at least 35 state directors) in the nation’s capitol to lobby their members of Congress. More information will be released in the weeks to come, but anyone interested in making the trip to D.C. is asked to contact their state PPA directors to make arrangements.
Another highlight of the week will also be a charity poker tournament at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to benefit the USO. The July 21st tournament in D.C. will feature the presence of numerous military men and women, along with PPA members, U.S. Senators and Representatives, and recognizable professional poker players.
D’Amato noted, “Our members – the poker players of America – are our best advocates to protect the future of poker. National Poker Week, with events in Washington, D.C., and across the country, is the PPA’s way to make it clear to my former colleagues in the U.S. Congress that poker is important to voters and is here to stay.”
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