|Full Tilt Poker|
Recently, with the Full Tilt scandal, online poker in the USA has been getting lots of bad press across the country. With the exception of a few bright spots, such as Tom Dwan’s defense of online poker in a recent Fox News interview, most of the headlines have been glum.
Last month the Department of Justice pronounced Full Tilt Poker a “Ponzi scheme”. In the words of American Gaming Association president, Frank Fahrenkopf, “In many ways the actions of the Justice Department, which we fully support, really sort of focus on the need for this legislation more than anything we could say.”
The charges against Full Tilt highlighted the need for online poker regulation, and in some circles, it was projected that the Full Tilt scandal could become a catalyst for online poker regulation. What we’ve seen thus far, points to the opposite.
The Poker Players Alliance is the largest political body representing the interests of online poker players, and in this recent Full Tilt scandal they have not emerged unscathed. It’s come to light that Full Tilt poker is one of the largest contributors to the PPA’s budget. As a result, once fertile political ground and connections in Washington have reeled, as politicians move to distance themselves from Full Tilt poker and any related organizations, such as the PPA.
The first major move came from Representative Barney Frank, the top House Democrat on the Financial Services committee, who immediately vowed to return or give to charity any money he’s received from either Full Tilt and the PPA. The dominoes continued to fall as similar pledges were made by Nevada Representatives Shelley Berkley and Joe Heck, and Senator Dean Heller.
The good news is that with poker legislation still in its infant stages, a set back could set the stage for a new rally point. Last year’s major effort included trying to include online poker legislation into a must pass tax bill, as well as Texas Republican Joe Barton’s attempt to get a house bill to legalize online poker.
With elections coming up in November of 2012, it’s thought that online legalization of poker may need to happen before that. After that there is no guarantee Senator Harry Reid, who has been open to poker legislation, will still be in his seat. Plus Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, the Republican Whip, is a member of the deficit committee and his ability to push online poker into a deficit reduction package is one of the strongest prospects for timely online poker regulation.