PPA Chairman Lobbies for Changes to Reid/Kyl Online Poker Bill

The Poker Players Alliance has released a copy of a letter sent to Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl calling for changes to their draft legislation that seeks to federally regulate online poker.

In the letter, dated November 4, PPA Chairman Alfonse D’Amato commends the Senators for attempting to institute regulations to license internet poker in the US. D’Amato praises the draft for its consumer protection provisions, its “solid framework for states to regulate online poker,” and its revenue generating components that will provide financial relief without raising taxes.

However, the Chairman also identifies areas where the draft can be improved.

Under the current version of the draft, individual states would need to opt-in for its residents to partake in online poker. D’Amato recommends that states that already offer non-tribal poker be automatically opted in.

D’Amato also questions the need for a 450 day waiting period after the law would take effect before licensed operators can offer games.

“While we poker players fully understand the importance of creating strong regulations and thoroughly vetting licensees, we also believe this can be effectively accomplished in an expedited time frame,” he wrote.

Currently, only players within the US would be allowed to play on these newly regulated sites. D’Amato suggests that the Senators not be so hasty to exclude the rest of the world and to leave open the door for international play in the future should the circumstances be deemed suitable.

Although no recommendations were presented that would address issues of taxing winnings but not deducting losses on the state level, the Chairman does recommend that players’ wins and losses be netted on an annual basis for federal tax reporting.

In an attempt to make the bill more appealing to organizations that currently oppose it, D’Amato alerts the senators to the concerns of state lottery commissions and tribal interests. He suggests that making those organizations eligible for licencing would also benefit consumers as it would create strong competition in the marketplace.

The last modification suggested is that the exclusion of some game providers that offered play to US residents be removed. D’Amato identifies this restriction as “arbitrary, unduly unfair and possibly unconstitutional.”

The letter was accompanied by the legal opinion of Georgetown University legal professor Paul D. Clement that the restrictions placed upon operators that facilitated poker for US residents was indeed unconstitutional.