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Poker Players Alliance to Spend a Paltry $3M on Lobbying

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Apr/20/2009

The million plus member strong Poker Players Alliance has announced its intention to spend $3 million on lobbying to overturn the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) or at least carve out an exemption for online poker.  The group gets most of its money from the Internet Gaming Council (IGC), which in turn is heavily funded by much larger online poker ventures based out of Europe.

$3 million may seem impressive on the surface but consider that many of these poker rooms make that money in a week's time, that "donation" is rather paltry.

And does $3 million really buy anything in Washington these days?  After all, President Obama's stimulus package is starting off at $700 billion. 

In fairness, Internet gambling's biggest threat on the federal level comes from the NFL and its lobbying efforts, which are a mere $1.1 million (note, the horse racing industry and Indian casinos also spend a few million per year to protect against legalized online gambling). 

But in addition to ensure the overturning of online gambling prohibition, the NFL is also stepping up its efforts in Washington to get Comcast to provide some 24 million plus viewers with the NFL Network.

Comcast is fighting back the same way the PPA is, only with bigger purse strings.  The cable company is spending $12.5 million in lobbying efforts.

How far has lobbying gotten the online gambling industry so far?

It's gotten us the UIGEA and a bunch of arrests.  Last year, the IGC spent $2 million and got zero.  By comparison, The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), has spent an undisclosed amount of money on its legal efforts with much greater success.  Late last year, that industry trade organization won a landmark case in the commonwealth of Kentucky preventing the seizure of some 141 online gambling websites.  iMEGA hopes to have the same type of success on the federal level in the coming months as they appeal the "Constitutionality" of the UIGEA.  Its membership is comprised of some of the largest Internet gambling firms, mostly on the sports betting side.  The presumption is that iMEGA is also receiving funding from political interests in the state of New Jersey as they attempt to overturn a ban on federal sports wagering.  iMEGA does not disclose its membership nor individual donations.   

Sports betting and, in particular, online casino gambling, generate the most revenue for the burgeoning multi billion dollar industry.

Should the PPA be spending more?  

Probably.  In the whole scheme of things, the poker industry is making more than Comcast and that cable enterprise is spending four times as much as the PPA on lobbying.

Gambling911.com says "Probably" since not much has come of past lobbying efforts thus far, outside of a little chest thumping.  Perhaps that money is better spent elsewhere.  

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher        

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