(Click Here for the Latest Online Poker News Stories)
Copyright © 2007 Poker Player
HEADLINE: Can Online
Poker Be Saved?
In February, the big buzz in the poker
world was the coming of former Senator Alfonse D’Amato,
as the chief lobbyist of the poker organization that has set itself
up to be the voice of online
poker gaming interests. Finally, the PPA has been graced with
a story in the New York Times that confirms Mr. D’Amato’s
presence on the scene. The paper of record was even handed, but
not Mr. D’Amato’s best friend in its article. He will
undoubtedly receive a puffier welcome from the poker publication
that has been promised an exclusive interview with him.
Undeterred by the PPA’s continuing coyness, and the exclusive
interview it has reportedly given to a poker
journalist who is a member of the PPA Board, I called the organization’s
President, Michael Bolcerek last week. I was looking for an update
for the same poker
community that the PPA wants in its membership ranks. What might
be the organization’s battle plans to free
online poker from the potential shackles of the Unlawful Internet
Gambling Act of 2006? UIGEA attempts to end online betting by
American-based players. Mr. Bolcerek was inexplicably tight-lipped
about the PPA’s anticipated savior and mum as to its next
I took my leave from the PPA president’s politely played
game of dodge ball, before hopping on an airplane to Washington.
While in the Capitol for business matters and a variety of political
events on both sides of the aisle, I began to probe the poker
industry’s odds of getting relief from the perils of UIGEA.
During the course of my visit, I donned many different hats;
as business executive, politico, chairman of the government affairs
committee of the World Poker Association, part time poker
journalist, and moonlighting poker pro. I saw opportunities to
press the flesh as obligations to dig for information on the state
of poker, while looking forward to Mr. Bolcerek and his PPA group
getting their ducks in a row.
All counted, I had more than a dozen meetings with elected officials
and political operatives while I was there, but none was more
instructive than the one with Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. She
welcomed my queries, completely unfazed by my switching hats from
one moment to the next. She never grumbled over the fact that
I am not a Nevadan. She did point out however, that members of
Congress have an overriding duty to pay attention to the voices
of constituents. She also stunned me with a simple fact of life
in politics: the strength of an association’s voice rests
with the number of members that are registered to vote.
In my half hour meeting with the senior member of Nevada’s
congressional delegation in the House of Representatives, Shelley
Berkley proved to be one smart cookie. She has a thoughtful, no
nonsense approach as she considers the issues of her less than
synchronized flock of gaming and gambling businesses. She is forthright
in her support of her “poker guys.” But not for a
minute does she lead me to think she will waver in her substantial
commitment to the brick and mortar operators in her district.
They were there long before online gaming heated up.
The commercial casino interests are represented by the formidably
funded American Gaming Association. Frank Fahrenkopf, a highly
regarded and powerfully connected lawyer, is the longtime president
of the AGA. He was close to President Ronald Reagan and has represented
Wayne (“Mr. Las Vegas”) Newton. He knows the gaming
business inside out. Suffice to say Mr. Fahrenkopf’s group
has not rushed to the aid of the poker
lobby. The gaming industry is behind a study bill for its own
purposes. It will soon be introduced in the House of Representatives.
Capitol insiders are consistent in saying that poker interests
have no real prospect of changing the present course—which
is to let a poker-carve out bill fall by the wayside in favor
of the commercial gaming industry’s interests in a bill
to study the bigger picture of online gaming.
It would now seem timely for the PPA to make nice with the AGA,
even if it elongates the timetable for relief from the very present
strains of UIGEA. Congresswoman Berkley is bent on building cooperation,
wherever she can. Will she bring these groups to the table? Can
she facilitate a better game plan for both, as the reality of
an uphill battle looms for the whole gaming industry?. She’s
has not discussed any specifics, but don’t be surprised
if Congresswoman Berkley soon makes the effort to promote a meeting
of the minds.
I left Washington with clear advice for the poker
industry; Do the homework before skating too fast through the
Halls of Congress. And as everyone who was anyone in Washington
intoned: Count the ways you can support your representatives in
the nation’s capitol.
Stay tuned for more news from my recent Washington travels, and
follow up to check out Alfonse D’Amato’s recent visit
across the pond with online
poker folks. Poker
Stars is rumored to be moving forward with a scholarly report
that will prove that poker
is a game
of skill rather than chance. Now, there’s a plan for the
Offsite: PPA and Wendeen H. Eolis Blog
Wendeen Eolis is CEO of EOLIS International Group a legal/business
consultancy. A longtime confidante and advisor to Rudy Giuliani,
she also served as first assistant to Governor George E. Pataki.
She is consulted by law firms, companies, and governments around
the world. In her spare time Wendeen became a poker ace; she was
elected to the WPT’s Inaugural Professional Poker Tour and
has cashed in five WSOP events. She has written articles for various
law journals as well as the poker industry. Visit eolis.com for
info on her book, and availability as a speaker.
Room Bonus - 40% up to $200
Related: See U.S.
downloaded from the World Wide Web on Mar 6, 2007:
(Click Here for the Latest Online Poker News Stories)