PPA Amendment Striking Poker Criminalization Language from MA Gaming Bill Passes

Washington, DC (April 14, 2010) -The Massachusetts House of Representatives yesterday approved a Poker Players Alliance-supported amendment to the state’s gaming legislation (http://www.mass.gov/legis/house/ggrc.pdf) which removed language criminalizing playing online poker and other gaming over the Internet. The bill should meet final passage later today. PPA, the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide and over 25,000 members in Massachusetts, has been working closely with Massachusetts lawmakers since 2008 to preserve Massachusetts‘ citizens‘ rights to play poker, whether online or in person.

„Of course, the PPA is very pleased that the House-passed gaming bill does not criminalize online poker, but I am even more proud of our members in Massachusetts who really stepped up to the plate on this issue and made their voices heard among the House lawmakers. This was grassroots at its finest,“ said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA.

The PPA has been engaged in the gaming debate in Massachusetts since 2008, when a broad casino bill contained language making it illegal to play online poker, carrying a criminal penalty of up to 2 years in prison and/or a USD 25,000 fine. That legislation ultimately lost momentum, but was reintroduced this year.

Notwithstanding assurances that the criminalization language would not be part of the new bill introduced this year, it was. The PPA, its members in Massachusetts, and lobbying team quickly rallied to provide an amendment, offered by State Representative Brian Dempsey, striking the criminalization provision and to communicate the wide support for legal online poker among Massachusetts citizens.

Additionally, the PPA has been working with State Representative Brian Wallace on his legislation, H4069, which would officially define poker as a game of skill in Massachusetts.

„On behalf of poker players in Massachusetts and nationwide, I’d like to thank Representative Dempsey for his effort to remove the criminalization language from the gaming bill, as well as Representative Wallace for his continued support,“ said Pappas. „We will now focus our efforts on the Massachusetts Senate to include the skill language into the bill and to ensure the criminalization provision stays out of the final package.“

For more background on the skill versus chance argument, please visit http://theppa.org/resources/skill/.