Poker Players Alliance Does a Newt Gingrich Regarding Internet Poker Bill

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:

Just as likely Republican US Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has flip flopped on the issue of military intervention in Libya, an even bigger about face seemed to occur within the world of poker with the powerful Poker Players Alliance (PPA) first claiming they would not seek to support independent state efforts to legalize Web card rooms, then suddenly announcing their support for a bill that would allow the activity in Nevada. Quietly, we say, in the sense that the PPA did not even issue a press release on this position.

Why the wavering and dithering?

The Nevada bill is being pushed by PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room.  They also happen to be one of the biggest financial supporters of the PPA (along with Full Tilt Poker).  PokerStars announced by week’s end they had forged an alliance with Las Vegas powerhouse Wynn Resorts. 

Poker Players Alliance Executive Director John Pappas applauded the veto by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of a bill that would have made his state the first to legalize Internet poker and other forms of Web betting.

Pappas had this to say about Iowa’s efforts a week later:  "We would be very concerned about proposals that would limit play just to Iowa residents.”

He further claimed that allowing online poker on a state-by-state basis could balkanize Internet gambling and prevent the industry from developing a critical mass of players needed to provide entertaining games.

Pappas argues that the Nevada measure contains many of the elements the Poker Players Alliance has sought in state and federal proposals.

"This bill represents the best possible approach to intrastate regulated Internet poker," Pappas said. "It is also geared to maximize economic growth in Nevada."

But what are the differences between Nevada’s legislation and the bills presented in both New Jersey and Iowa that Pappas and his cohorts objected to?

There aren’t a whole lot. 

Surely Nevada’s under 3 million residents cannot sustain the mass needed to sustain a successful online poker operation.  In fact, Nevada’s population is less than that of Iowa and practically a quarter of New Jersey’s. 

But there is one key difference that could help build momentum.

The Nevada legislation as it stands now would not exclude other states from participating.  In that sense, the Nevada measure is not exactly “intrastate” but rather “interstate” and – dare we say – federal. 

From the Associated Press:

Economist Jeremy Aguero estimated the state could collect between $2 million and $3.4 million in taxes annually if online poker is legalized in Nevada, and up to $65 million if it captured a quarter of the international market.

The economic possibilities go beyond tax revenue, Aguero said. If the state sets up a structure requiring licensed online poker operators to be headquartered in Nevada, an estimated 1,200 direct jobs and $77 million in direct wages could result.

In another scenario, Nevada could require all online poker operators to make a minimum capital investment in Nevada, Aguero said. That projection shows 3,400 direct new jobs, $200 million in direct wages and about $1.3 billion in total economic activity.

- Alejandro Botticelli,

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