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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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PPA raises the stakes

13 Dec 2006

By Aaron Todd

The Poker Players Alliance is going local. The grassroots organization that has been leading the fight to regulate Internet poker is looking for state, regional and local representatives to raise awareness and recruit members.

"We felt it was important that we have a strong local, regional and state organization that can press the agenda at home when their (Congressional representatives) are back in their local jurisdictions," said Michael Bolcerek, the president of the PPA. "They can work with local media that might be more interested in speaking with a local member of the Poker Players Alliances than with myself."

Bolcerek will also be relying on these regional representatives to help continue to build membership. The PPA has grown from almost nothing to 135,000 in the year that Bolcerek has been at the helm. And it's this proactive approach that Bolcerek hopes will allow the organization to gain inroads with new Democratic Congressional leaders once the 110th Congress convenes.

"It gives us the opportunity to look at specific districts and members of Congress and to build our membership specifically around those targeted districts," Bolcerek said. "If someone's on the fence in regards to a poker exemption, our membership can then ask that member of Congress more actively to support our agenda."

"It's an evolutionary step on their part," said Sue Schneider, president and CEO of the River City Group. "There's going to be more (legislation) at the state level and I'm sure at the federal level."

And it's a move that's taken on added importance after the 109th Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The bill, signed by President Bush in October, requires U.S. financial institutions to block transactions to Internet gambling sites.

"The fact is that often times, bills are passed without adequate consideration," Bolcerek said. "What we've found is that political power sometimes conquers good public policy, and we're hoping to resurrect that (good policy) in the new (Congressional) session."

The PPA may now find legislators that are more willing to listen. Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa), a 15-term member of the House of Representatives who championed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, lost his reelection bid by less than 6,000 votes. Many, including the PPA and gambling law expert I. Nelson Rose, have attributed that loss to Leach's stance on Internet gambling.

And even though Schneider admits it will be hard to find a Congressman who's willing to say, "Hurrah for Internet gambling," she does believe these regional representatives can have an impact if they communicate the right message.

"Why should the delivery system, because it's in cyberspace, be treated differently than the land-based terrestrial system?" Schneider asked. "Internet freedom and the revenue possibilities are other valid arguments (for Internet gambling)."

PPA members interested in becoming local, regional or state representatives can learn more by visiting the Poker Players Alliance Web site.

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