The country’s preeminent online poker advocacy group is going through some major changes. Now, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) says unless the public steps up to back the organization, it may not survive them.
The PPA sent out a press release Feb. 7 announcing longtime Executive Director John Pappas would be stepping down at the end of the month.
Vice President Rich Muny will take on the day-to-day responsibility of running the organization as PPA President. Pappas will remain on the board of directors and take on a role as a strategic advisor.
Pappas led the non-profit membership organization for more than a decade. PPA’s longest serving board member Linda Johnson described Pappas as a tremendous leader and true professional:
“Under his guidance, PPA has emerged as a policy advocacy and grassroots powerhouse in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the country. For almost a decade, he has been the political voice and face of the poker community and regulated internet gaming advocates. He leaves the organization in a strong position to continue to ensure that consumer voices drive the internet gaming debate.”
How strong is the PPA?
However, just how strong a position Pappas is leaving the organization in is in question.
In the release, Pappas says there has never been greater momentum for internet gaming in the US than right now:
“Whether lawmakers are considering poker, casino gambling or even sports betting, a strong and organized grassroots effort will be critical to legislative success. I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA board of directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point. I will miss working for the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.”
However, the PPA has been adjusting to a reduction in financial support from the internet gaming industry recently.
The PPA claims despite that, it was still instrumental in the legalization of Pennsylvania online gambling last year. However, it’s impossible to say if Pennsylvania would have passed online gambling legislation even without the PPA’s efforts.
Does the PPA deliver results?
The organization also claims to have made a significant impact advocating for all forms of poker and internet gaming.
There’s little doubt the PPA has made a strong push for online poker and internet gambling. The PAA has definitely worked with state governments and stakeholders. It has maintained a position as a voice for the poker community.
However, results have been few and far between. Just four states have passed bills legalizing online poker. The truth is they may have done so even without the PPA’s help.
The PPA is now also considering a shift in its advocacy efforts. In fact, it claims to be thinking about jumping on the sports betting bandwagon. If only to see if it can’t attach the push for online poker to a movement with significantly more momentum.
New Jersey‘s case against a federal ban on sports betting was heard by the US Supreme Court in December. A decision is expected in the coming months. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey it could open up the right for states across the country to legalize sports betting. As many as 20 states have already passed or are considering passing legislation that would legalize sports betting if the federal ban is lifted.
Despite more than a decade of effort from the PPA, there has never been this much momentum behind online poker.
The PPA says it is perfectly positioned to expand into this area. Plus, it could help the organization gain potential new activists and donors. Additionally, it says getting behind sports betting might help ensure poker is included in legislative discussions.
The Poker Players Alliance plea
However, the organization also says it may not survive to see movement on any of it without the public’s help.
An update from Muny posted on the PPA website Feb. 16 claims this is a period of challenge.
It reiterates the point that the PPA has seen a significant reduction in donations from the internet gaming industry. Plus, it claims the PPA may be forced to shut down without the public’s help:
“We now find ourselves possibly shutting down right before what could be the biggest year for iPoker and iGaming yet. PPA cannot continue fighting for poker if we do not meet our fundraising goal of $25,000 by the end of March. With support from poker players and enthusiasts like you, we can easily make this goal.”
The plea ends claiming every dollar donated will go toward core operational expenses of the organization’s grassroots communications and advocacy.