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Aaron Todd

Aaron  Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

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Internet Gambling Debate: Who Speaks for You?

5 Oct 2006

By Aaron Todd

Focus on the Family is calling Congress' vote to pass the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last week the "vote heard round the world."

"Families are celebrating as Congress heard their voices, the voices of millions of families to stop Internet gambling," says Chad Hills, Analyst for Gambling Research for Focus on the Family.

A study commissioned by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and conducted by independent market research supplier ICR earlier this year, however, indicates that Congress actually moved against the majority opinion on the matter.

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed responded "No" to the question: "Should the federal government prevent Americans from playing poker on the Internet?"

Hills, however, took issue with the survey, stating that the question was unfairly skewed to produce a negative response to legislation.

"I could have done a survey that said 'Should Internet predators be allowed to molest 7-in-10 people who use the Internet?'" Hills says. "People would have certainly voted the other way. They're playing the Big Brother card here."

For Jay Bailey, the Director of Development for the recently formed National Right for Online Gaming (NROG), that's exactly the point.

"I know we're the National Right for Online Gaming and our Web site is," Bailey says. "But this isn't even about gaming; this is about a protection of rights."

Other Organizations

There are a number of non-profit organizations that have not issued a response to the legislation, but based on their mission statements, would likely find problems with the law as it stands. Each organization listed is paired with part of its mission statement as posed on its Web site.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): "The mission of the ACLU is to preserve … your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted intrusion into your personal and private affairs."

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF): "When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the EFF is the first line of defense. EFF … continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation and consumer rights today."

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC): "EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values."

Apparently plenty of people agree. While the organization has yet to launch a marketing campaign, it has quickly built a membership base over 20,000 strong through stories in targeted media outlets and word of mouth on Internet message boards. Given the latest news in the industry, Bailey expects that rapid growth to continue.

"Obviously we're devastated that this was put through," Bailey said. "But we look at the positive and say it was kind of the shot in the arm that the industry and the public needed."

The PPA has also experienced a growth spurt. The organization met a membership goal of 100,000 during the World Series of Poker over the summer, and has since signed on 20,000 more members and increased its membership goal to 250,000 by the end of the year. PPA president Michael Bolcerek says poker is unique and should not have been included in the legislation.

"Our belief is that poker should have received an exemption as a skill game and as a community game as horse racing, lotteries and fantasy sports received," Bolcerek says. "We're redoubling our efforts after the elections to see if someone is willing to offer up a poker exemption."

While the PPA is working towards an exemption for Internet poker, both NROG and Focus on the Family are gearing up for the next fight.

"When you put a new fence around your dog's territory he's going to sniff around the edge for any holes or openings," Hills says. "I think the gambling industry is doing that right now. What we plan to do is work with Congress to (update the Wire Act)."

NROG is already preparing for that battle.

"When they see the industry still going strong, whether it be six months from now or two years from now, they'll decide to try to make the next step," Bailey says. "That's why our doors are open and we're going to continue fighting until we get total legalization of online gambling."

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