Poker players will receive an update from their top lobbying organization on legislative efforts to license and regulate online poker in the United States during a special town hall-style meeting Saturday at the Rio.
When it comes to federal efforts, however, it might be a short conversation.
The Poker Players Alliance is using the World Series of Poker, which has attracted thousands of players to Las Vegas, to update the poker community on what's taking place in various states.
John Pappas, the alliance's executive director, said he expects to hear from players who have been sidelined from Internet play since the April 15, 2011, crackdown on Internet poker by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Pappas will be joined by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the sponsor of House Resolution 2366, which calls for legalization of Internet poker, and professional poker players Greg Raymer - the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event champion - and Linda Johnson, who have lobbied on behalf of the Poker Players Alliance in Washington, D.C.
Pappas said Congress has gone silent on Internet poker in recent months while speculation continues that Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are working behind the scenes on potential legislation. Kyl and Reid during the 2010 lame duck session sponsored Internet poker legislation that went nowhere.
"Obviously, there is not a lot to discuss about Congress," Pappas said Thursday. "What were really looking at is what is happening on the state level."
Nevada is the only state with Internet poker laws on the books, which would allow gamblers to play for real money on the Internet within Nevada's boundaries. State gaming regulators are beginning the licensing process but the poker websites may not be operating until 2013.
Poker Players Alliance Nevada State Director Lupe Soto will discuss the state's situation. Other states are pressing forward with Internet poker legislation.
The Delaware Senate on Wednesday approved a House bill that would allow the state to conduct online gaming. Gov. Jack Markell, who backed the measure, is expected to sign a bill to make Delaware the first state in the nation to legalize full-scale casino betting on the Internet. Online slot machine play and casino games such as blackjack and poker will be accessible through each Delaware casino's website, controlled centrally by the state Lottery Office.
"This is why we're supportive of a federal strategy moving forward," Pappas said. "A federal solution is the cleanest way to move forward."
The Poker Players Alliance hopes to get input from players when it conducts the session at 12:15 p.m. in the Belize conference room.
This will be the group's fourth town hall meeting. It held two in Florida and one in Cincinnati that drew poker players from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Pappas said much of what happens in Washington surrounding poker depends on the outcome of November elections and the future makeup of Congress. He said the lame duck session after the election could include an Internet poker bill.
"It's not something that will happen overnight," Pappas said.
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