PPA condemns I. Nelson Rose for Joe Barton comments

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 21, 2011 Posted in Poker Industry News | 2 Comments »

Dating back to October, and most recently In an article in Poker Players Magazine, gaming law expert I. Nelson Rose has been pointing out that the current darling of the poker world, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), has somewhat of a history for being a political opportunist, with Rose basically concluding that he is not sold on Barton’s commitment to legalizing and regulating online poker.

Well, it appears the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is not overly happy with Rose’s summation of Barton’s political career, and earlier today they released a response calling the article and the statements against Barton, “misguided”. The PPA is claiming Rose’s criticisms stem from an ideological difference with Barton and not over the specifics of his proposed online poker bill or the Congressman’s views on poker.

While I understand the PPA’s stance, as well as the reason they would come to the defense of one of their biggest perceived advocates in Congress, the facts are the facts, and Barton’s voting record simply doesn’t mesh with the picture that has been painted of Representative Barton being an Online Poker Freedom Fighter.

As Rose points out:

“Barton voted to ban “Internet gambling by credit card” in June 2003. He voted in favor of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in late 2006… Barton was chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in 2006. He not only voted in favor of the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act in early 2006, he gave up the right to use his committee to modify this anti-Internet gambling bill.”

Are we really to believe that Barton’s views have shifted so dramatically over the past five years that he now (when he no longer has a committee chairmanship that could bring up the topic) thinks online poker should be exempted from the UIGEA? Are we to believe that a man who takes pride in a 100% approval rating by the Christian Coalition (Rose claims the actual rating is 91%) is going to suddenly fight tooth and nail for an expansion of gambling!

Let’s look at what took place with Barton’s bill this year: Barton’s much milder version of online gaming legislation failed to build upon the momentum of retiring Congressman Barney Frank’s (D-MA) all-encompassing online gaming bill which easily passed the House Financial Services Committee in 2009. Instead we had a total of three subcommittee hearings with not even a whisper of the possibility the bill might even be brought up for debate in the full Committee, never mind a vote on the House floor!

Barton’s comments in the aftermath of two separate subcommittee hearings on the topic were extremely subdued, and to me very telling, with a lot of Washington –speak like, “I think we are making good progress,” and “it was a productive meeting.”

For the PPA to attack a long-time poker advocate, and perhaps the greatest mind when it comes to gaming law, solely for bringing up legitimate concerns about our supposed savior in Congress is about as deconstructive as it gets. If the PPA really felt this way couldn’t they have set up a meeting between Barton and Rose where Barton could explain away Rose’s concerns? Or is Rose simply not enough of a figure in the online poker fight to warrant this type of treatment?

The PPA needs to understand that 99% of the poker community wants what they want, but after five years of big talk, with little to no real-world progress, we are starting to get a bit frustrated and may not accept that Mr. Barton is the White Knight the PPA is making him out to be on faith alone–especially when his voting record in Congress points to a Christian Conservative who has been on the wrong-side of every online gaming vote in his career.

For the PPA to denounce anyone questioning the possible motives of Representative Barton (or any other member of Congress) is counterproductive. The PPA is supposed to represent the poker community. If a distinguished member of that community has some questions as to the authenticity of someone the PPA is pinning their hopes on they should take the time to answer these concerns, not attack the perceived attacker. Honestly this is the worst kind of advocacy. If Rose is correct (my personal hope is that he is wrong) than the PPA will have wasted another year or two lobbying for a bill that will never see the light of day. It’s very, VERY, important that we know whether Mr. Barton will be a voice for online poker, or if he likes the idea only enough to line his campaign coffers.

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2 Responses to “PPA condemns I. Nelson Rose for Joe Barton comments”

  1. Tommy says:

    I sounds like someone has a bigger problem with the GOP then he has with online Poker being illegal for most Americans. I guess he had no problem that Barney Frank was connection to Freddie and Fanny before it was fell apart. And never asked the question to Barney Frank how much would you tax us? Because even if Barney Frank got us our Poker back, after taxes it might not look like anything like did and it might not look like anything anyone could ever make money one.

  2. Steve Ruddock says:

    This is a good point, because we saw how fast Barney Frank ran away from online poker as soon as he was tied to PokerStars and Full Tilt money after Black Friday.

    But the difference is in voting records; people can say whatever they please in Congress, but at the end of the day your votes speak for themselves.Up to this point in his career Mr. Barton simply has not been a friend of poker players.Frank has always advocated for Government to stay out of people’s private lives, and I’ve seen him bring up online gambling legislation in interviews without being prodded.

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