PPA Check-In with Rich Muny: March Madness
The fight to legalize online poker in the United States has reached a tipping point, with states pushing forward with their own online poker bills, while the federal government remains in gridlock. Still, the only complete legislative victory for poker players will be when federal legislation is passed.
Every week the Poker Players Alliance Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny will give us the latest information on the fight to legalize poker in the United States at both the state and federal level.
This week Rich discussed the chances of several states passing online poker legislation in 2013, as well as addressing the Greg Raymer’s role with the PPA moving forward.
PNB: The poker world received some very good news last week when the DOJ appointed the Garden City Group to handle the remission process for Full Tilt Poker players. Does the PPA have any indication of what the next step will be, or what kind of timetable players can expect?
RM: The next step is for all U.S. players with balances on Full Tilt Poker to go to the new Full Tilt remission website, at www.fulltiltpokerclaims.com and to sign up for updates. As this is for updates only, there is no need to worry about matching information with that on file with Full Tilt. Still, as it is going into a database, I logged into Full Tilt and used that information to ensure my email and name matched exactly (“Richard”vs. “Rich”, middle initial vs. name, etc.).
Everyone should also bookmark the PPA Full Tilt Poker Player Remission Resource Center at http://theppa.org/repayment. We continually update the site with all the information everyone will need.
I am going through this process alongside everyone else who was victimized by this, so I will be monitoring everything in real time. It will still be a while for this to complete, of course, as there is a defined governmental process to be followed, but we are clearly on course for repayment.
PNB: As a poker player yourself and with your finger on the pulse of legislative efforts, I’m going to ask you to set the lines for the following states passing online poker legislation in 2013:
· Massachusetts: I’d say we are an underdog for this year, but could feasibly get it done in 2014. State Treasurer Steve Grossman has been willing to discuss this issue and is clearly reviewing it closely. Supporters in Massachusetts should be reaching out to their lawmakers to help make this happen.
· New York: The New York State Senate passed a non-binding budget proposal that includes a provision to allow for licensing of online poker in the state. PPA New York State Director Randy Hagen and PPA were instrumental in reaching out to Senate leadership on this. I do not think we will get this into the final budget, unfortunately, but getting this far bodes well for the overall effort.
PPA will push for Internet poker legislation to be considered along with an effort to bring brick-and-mortar casinos to the state when the state legislature reconvenes on May 2nd. We may be around a coin flip or perhaps slightly under, but there is a great deal of uncertainty around any predications there.
· California: PPA Executive Director John Pappas traveled to California two weeks ago to meet with the state’s lawmakers regarding this issue. While in Sacramento, Pappas also met with other leading stakeholders, including Indian tribes and state regulated card rooms, to discuss the prospects of legislation. Currently, the state has one full bill pending, SB 51, along with a placeholder bill for a likely alternate bill.
At this time, the prospects for legislation in the Golden State remain unclear. The tribes control all the cards, in my opinion. There are a growing number of tribes who are now signaling their support for Internet poker in general. However, no tribes have come out in support of the current legislation. This could mean that there will be a third proposal emerging in the coming weeks. This is a tough state to gauge. They could very well move this year, or they could again fall prey to infighting. The good news for poker is that the state is desperate for revenue and is leaving no stone unturned.
· Pennsylvania: State Representative Tina Davis (D) announced plans to introduce a bill to authorize online poker earlier this year. I think Pennsylvania is an underdog for 2013, but I do expect this bill to go far in getting lawmakers talking about the issue while giving players a platform from which to advocate. If it doesn’t pass this year, I expect the odds to be much higher in 2014 as a result.
· Illinois: On March 8th, Illinois State Senator Terry Link introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 1739 that would license and regulate Internet poker and Internet casino gaming. The amendment was passed out of committee by a 10-4 vote, with a full Senate vote expected soon. I think Illinois is seriously considering this and could very well move this year.
· Texas: State Senator Leticia Van de Putte is sponsoring two bills — SB 1103 and SJR 43 — to opt Texas into federally licensed online poker (should such a bill pass the U.S. Congress). PPA is working with her to encourage her to expand her legislation to allow Texas to compact with other states like New Jersey or Nevada. Texas has historically been a tough state or poker, despite being the namesake of the most popular variant of the game, but the effort there is very strong. PPA TX State Director Matt Allen is extremely dedicated to this fight, as are many Texans.
PNB: And finally I have to ask about one of the most talked about stories in the poker world this week; does the PPA have any intention of removing Greg Raymer from its Board of Directors following his arrest in a Wake Forest prostitution sting?
RM: I am very saddened by this situation. Greg Raymer has done a ton for the poker community, all as an unpaid volunteer. He’s always been a great backer of my efforts as well. I can’t say enough about his effort. That being said, the incident to which you refer has obviously created issues. As a result, Greg decided it is best for PPA for him to step aside at this time.
Here’s PPA’s official statement on the matter:
“Earlier today, members of the Board of Directors of the Poker Players Alliance had a conversation with Board member Greg Raymer. Mr. Raymer requested, and the rest of the PPA Board accepted, that he be given a formal leave of absence as member of the PPA Board.
The recent and unfortunate news regarding Greg has led him to decide that it is best for the PPA that he step away from his position on the Board while he deals with his legal and personal issues. The Board agrees with this decision and views it to be in the best interest of the organization. We are at a critical juncture in the fight for poker rights and we have to make sure side issues do not obscure focus from the main issue.
Effective today, Greg is no longer on the PPA Board of Directors. However, he is eligible for future reinstatement should the Board deem it to be in the interest of the organization. For many years, Greg has served in a distinguished manner on our Board and has been a stalwart advocate for the poker community. We thank Greg for his service and we wish his family and him the best as they deal with this personal situation.”
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