Poker Players Alliance pushes for regulation, collecting more than 350,000 signatures

As part of its “National Poker Week” the Poker Players Alliance has set up nearly 100 meetings with members of Congress and their aides and plans to present a petition to President Barack Obama this week with more than 350,000 signatures supporting the legalization of Internet poker in the United States.

The PPA, chaired by former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York, held a congressional staff “briefing” on Monday aiming at showing how online poker can be effectively regulated in the United States. Staffers from about 20 congressional offices attended the meeting, according to the poker group.

The Associated Press characterized the event as having the “feel of an infomercial” as John Pappas, the PPA’s executive director, asked questions of the panelists that inevitably ended with friendly responses.

In its petition to Obama, titled “Poker is Not a Crime,” the group is pushing for poker to be exempted from the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which forbids banks and other financial service providers from processing money transactions in the United States for Web gambling.

The federal government recently froze more than $30 million in the accounts of payment processors that handle the winnings of thousands of online poker players. The PPA is trying to get that money returned.

The group supports also legislation by Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, that would regulate rather than ban Internet gambling.