Poker players simply passively sit, blow wispy smoke designs in the air and look at their cards from behind their stealth disguise of dark sunglasses and ball caps all day long, hoping to just cash in on a good payday.
Rather, many members of the one-million strong Poker Players Alliance saw fit to actively make their voices heard on the issue of legalizing Internet gambling by flooding the Obama Web site, suggesting online gambling should be made legal.
Their efforts paid off. Poker playing made the top 10 list of subjects sent to the White House when President Barack Obama – a self-proclaimed poker player -asked Americans to send him their policy priorities. Poker playing also ranked as the No. 1 issue in the technology category.
The citizen requested priorities were unveiled last week in a Citizens Briefing Book, made public just days after legislation was introduced in Congress to repeal the 2006 ban on Internet gambling.
In all, more than 125,000 users suggested 44,000 ideas to help the administration properly prioritize their agenda. They cast 1.4 million votes for their favorite ideas, with each supportive vote earning 10 points.
Legalizing poker was suggested by an online player from Washington, D.C., under the heading: “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker.” It earned 46,890 points.
Poker players beat out a suggestion for increasing automotive fuel efficiency standards (46,120 points), but didn’t outscore “the permanent closure of all torture facilities” (61,250 points).
An American Gaming Association study released Monday shows that 2 percent of adult respondents gamble online. The Poker Players group estimates between 10 million and 15 million Americans regularly gamble on the Internet. They also estimate $3 billion annually could be generated from legitimizing the online gambling business.
This month, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would essentially repeal the Internet gaming ban by instituting a framework for licensing and regulating online games.
Religious groups have vowed to maintain the online gambling ban, saying Internet gaming is a threat to home life and family finances.
This year Harrah’s Entertainment became the first major gaming bricks-and-mortar operations to back the online legislation. Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley signed on as a co-sponsor.
Franks spokesman Steve Adamske said support for the bill depend on the extent to which backers contact their lawmakers, adding that actions like the briefing book onslaught are “hugely helpful.”
In some ways Obama’s briefing book reads like a to-do list he has already started – closing Guantanamo Bay detention facility, developing clean energy sources, supporting investment in high-speed rail.
In others it is purely the voice of the people.
The top 10 issues also include: “Revoke the George W. Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent,” “Commit to becoming the ‘greenest’ country in the world,” “No more wars on abstract concepts” and “ending marijuana prohibition.”