The press release explains that:
“Poker Alliance will be a dedicated voice for the millions of Americans who support expanding the sporting world of poker, in particular the players seeking to enjoy safe, well-regulated, and fair games in myriad locations and formats. The revamped association will prioritize advocating for consumer protection and states’ rights in the context of poker and internet gaming.”
The Poker Alliance will bring “a new kind of activism”
The Poker Alliance says that the Supreme Court decision overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) means that “the sport of poker is ready for a new kind of activism.”
Former PPA president Rich Muny will continue with the Poker Alliance as a member of the advisory board. He commented:
“I’m very optimistic about Poker Alliance’s potential to bring new innovations and a different skill set to the fight for poker, serving its membership and consumers in general. Along with my fellow advisors to the new leadership, I look forward to advocating for the great game of poker as part of Poker Alliance.”
The PPA has fought for poker players for over ten years
The PPA has been around since 2005, but sprang into prominence following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, which led to the withdrawal of many online poker sites from the US.
In the following years it lobbied for reform of the UIGEA, at the federal level, with the support of its then chairman former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato.
The coming of Black Friday in April 2011, when all of the remaining big names in online poker were closed down by the DOJ, and the resulting collapse of Full Tilt, UltimateBet and Absolute Poker gave the organisation a new boost of life.
Even though it lost some of its major funders, the PPA kept on lobbying and played a practical role in the long and arduous process of recovering player funds that had been seized by the government.
After the DOJ reinterpreted the Wire Act in a letter from the Office of Legal Counsel dated September 20, 2011, the PPA divided its focus between reform at the federal level and encouragement for states to adopt legislation legalizing online poker.
Since then, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have passed online poker legislation and many other states have made some progress towards letting their citizens have access to safe, regulated online poker.
However, in recent months the PPA has suffered a funding crisis after major sponsor PokerStars withdrew its support in 2017.
Executive President and ten year veteran of the PPA, John Pappas stepped away from his role in February this year and the PPA looked to be almost on the rocks.
Executive Director Rich Muny tried a last ditch attempt to raise $25,000 from a crowdfunding appeal to grassroots poker players, but the pitch failed and players produced only a third of the target amount.
Poker Central is driven by the vision of founder Cary Katz
Poker Central was founded by avid poker player, entrepreneur and philanthropist Cary Katz.
2018 has been good to Katz so far. He recovered from being a shortstack with just 7 big blinds to beat Daniel Negreanu, Issac Haxton, Bryn Kenney, Ivan Luca, Justin Bonomo, and Sam Greenwood to win the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller.
The $1.5 million first prize that he received would be more than enough to keep the Poker Alliance in funds for quite some time.
Poker players may remember Katz best for the viral video of an extraordinary hand at the first ever $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop at the 2014 World Series of Poker.
Katz got all-in pre-flop against Connor Drinan both holding a pair of aces. The board ran out with four hearts and it was Katz who luck had favored with the ace of hearts.
Katz made his fortune from a student loan business and he has since invested substantial sums in popularizing poker through Poker Central.
His enthusiasm for poker combined with his business talents have enabled him to recruit not just the biggest names in poker to support his vision, but also some of the biggest businesses in poker. The WSOP and PokerStars have both worked with Poker Central which is becoming the most important poker broadcaster in the world.
Mark Brenner will head up the Poker Alliance
The boss of the Poker Alliance will be “longtime business development and government relations executive Mark Brenner.”
With Brenner’s management and lobbying skills backed up by Rich Muny and John Pappas on the advisory board, Katz’s entrepreneurial flair should indeed produce something new from the ashes of the PPA.
Political lobbying for poker is about to get a whole lot more interesting.