Poker alliance bets on voter registration effort

WASHINGTON: The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is launching a voter registration effort during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, which begins May 31 and runs through November, with the aim of rallying support for reversing or blocking federal and state laws that prohibit gambling on online poker.

WASHINGTON: The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is launching a voter registration effort during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, which begins May 31 and runs through November, with the aim of rallying support for reversing or blocking federal and state laws that prohibit gambling on online poker.

The Herald Group helped develop the messaging and strategy for the If You Play, Have a Say campaign, as it's called, and is also providing media outreach and other tactical communications support. PPA launched a Web site, www poker-2008.org, where players can download forms and get information on voter registration.

Outreach timed for the 39th annual poker series will include speaking with trade magazines, such as Bluff and Poker Player; posting comments on the online poker forums where players discuss poker strategy, legislation, and other issues; running online, print, and possibly TV ads; and posting videos featuring top poker pros on social networking sites, such as Facebook.

The PPA has signed up more than 1 million members since its creation in 2005, thanks to funding from individuals and Canada-based industry trade group Interactive Gaming Council, according to PPA executive director John Pappas. Membership was further enhanced by the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, which, among other things, bans online gambling, he added.

"Out of this has sprung a political constituency that [we've] tapped into to influence public policy in Washington," Pappas said. "And we've found that one of the best things we can do is not only lobby members,... send letters to members of Congress, and attend town hall meetings, but get players registered and active on election days."

PPA is encouraging members and other players around the country to support legislation currently under consideration by Congress that would regulate online gambling to prevent play by minors or "problem" players. Outreach during the WSOP, which annually attracts tens of thousands of players and is broadcast on ESPN, will include a booth and online terminals for registration, advertising, and still-to-be-determined public events.

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