This time, the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) patiently waited until it was official. After the state of Massachusetts' House of Representatives passed an amendment that removed the controversial language regarding online poker in the state's gambling expansion bill, the group let out a sigh of relief and thanked its members and state officials who made the changes possible.
The PPA's executive director, John Pappas, said on April 13th, 2010 that they are very happy that the House-approved gambling bill did not discriminate against online poker but he is ever more proud of their members in the state who really stepped up against the issue and made their voices heard to state legislators.
John Pappas is referring to the phone calls and emails poker enthusiasts in Massachusetts directed toward their House representatives, which was so enormous that their offices petitioned the group to "call off the dogs".
The controversy started after poker players discovered that a proposal aimed to allow land-based casinos in Massachusetts contained language that would have criminalized online poker with a fine up to $25,000 and a maximum jail time of two years. The language copied a portion of a 2008 state bill that failed to gain momentum, and the PPA had been tirelessly working to make sure that this year's proposal-which is expected to be approved into law-cancelled the unacceptable language.
After receiving assurance from state lawmakers that they would not include that language, the group released a statement this month, stating that due to the hard work of their State Director, lobbying team and their grassroots network, they have successfully kept the offending poker language out of this new bill. But the group was shocked to see the anti online poker language still included in the bill when it was released to the public.
However, it appears that it was more of an oversight than a devious plan to sneak it through. When notified of the situation by several poker-playing constituents, state representatives said that the language would be taken off from the bill in a technical corrections amendment. And that is what happened on Tuesday.
State Representative Brian Dempsey sponsored the amendment that cancelled the penalties for online poker and the House passed it. PPA says that it will continue to work with Rep. Brian Wallace on a bill that would officially recognize poker as a game of skill in Massachusetts.
Pappas said that he would like to thank Rep. Dempsey for his efforts as well as Rep. Wallace on behalf of poker lovers in Massachusetts and all over the U.S. He added that he will now focus their efforts on the state Senate to include the skill language in the proposal and ensure that the criminalization language stays out of the final bill.
04/29/2010 13:04 PM