In a press conference at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on Monday, June 22nd, 2009, the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) unveiled several initiatives as part of the build-up for this year's National Poker Week that will begin on July 19th, 2009 until July 25th, 2009.
Aside from launching new online sites made to increase the participation of poker players in the political process, the meeting also announced plans for this year's Poker Players Alliance "fly in" to the US capital, where dozen of high-profile poker pros an state PPA representatives are expected to lobby in behalf of poker. The conference included participation by several high-profile PPA figutes, with PPA Executive Director John Pappas opening the conference and discussing the new PPA programs.
PPA chairman Alfonse D'Amato and US Rep. Shelley Berkley (Democrat-Nevada) gave a brief but interesting talks plus appearances by board members Linda Johnson and Greg Raymer. D'Amato, who also participated in Seniors Event at the 2009 WSOP, detailed some of the history of the political fight over online poker and online gaming. Berkley, who after her talk gave the traditional "Shuffle Up and Deal!" go signal to the Senior event participants, discussed the manner in which the 2006 UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was passed through Congress, criticizing the UIGEA's insertion into a port security measure as an attempt by Sen. Bill Frist to imorove his own presidential ambitions, which fell apart after the approval of the UIGEA.
The majority of the meeting was spent looking forward into the future of poker, with PPA's Pappas discussing several initiatives including the reintroduction of the "skill games" proposal of Senator Robert Menendez. This possible second chance for the bill would give an exemption for skill games played over the World Wide Web like backgammon, poker and mahjongg. Development on Congressman Barney Frank's own ongoing efforts to dismiss the UIGEA was also discussed, with the possibility of a hearing by Rep. Frank's Finance Committee to be held in July.
The PPA also announced three new programs designed to improve the awareness for the game of poker on both the federal and state level, continuing PPA's goal of helping poker enthusiasts to organize themselves. Each of the three new programs contains its own site. The first program, at nationalpokerweek.com, includes a brief summary of the events for the July Washington D.C. fly-in and includes ways for players to contact their representatives on the game of poker's behalf. The 2nd online site, at pokerpetition.com, features an online petition designed to be given to President Barack Obama during the National Poker Week.
While the existence of the online poker petition was divulged a couple of days before its unveiling, more than 7,500 poker players quickly signed the petition in the first few hours of its existence. The third online site, at mypokerstory.com, is an attempt by the Poker Players Alliance to humanize the game and remove false stereotypes like poker is a game that only backroom gamers and con artists play.
The site also features a contest for PPA members, with each member invited to share their own poker story. The winner will receive a trip for two in Las Vegas, Nevada, donated by Harrah's Entertainment. Participation in the contest can be accomplish online or at the Poker Players Alliance's Convention Center booth for the duration of the 2009 World Series of Poker.