Poker is Not a Crime: Poker Players Rally to Fight MA Poker Ban
Washington, D.C. (March 18, 2008) – Poker players from across Massachusetts today held a rally outside of the Massachusetts State House to protest a provision in Governor Deval Patrick’s casinos bill that makes playing poker on the internet with other adults a crime punishable by jail time. The rally was organized by the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group comprised of almost one million online and offline poker players nationwide, and held prior to a hearing before the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies focused on H 4307, the Massachusetts Casino Expansion Bill.
“In the case of the online poker ban in the Governor’s casino bill, making criminals out of adults who choose this form of skilled recreation makes no sense,” said Randy Castonguay, Massachusetts State Director for PPA. “We urge members of the committee and the state legislature to recognize the unfairness of this provision and remove it from the bill in order to protect the rights of thousands of their constituents to enjoy this game of skill – whether online or at a card table.”
The online poker criminalization provision (section 15 (i)) in H 4307 makes it illegal to play poker on the Internet in the comfort of one’s own home, and carries a significant punishment -- 2 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. The growth of online poker allows many to play the game who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to a casino, including the disabled, paralyzed veterans, people recovering from serious illness and stay at home mothers. Moreover, the vast majority of people play Internet poker for very small stakes, with the most popular games online being played for mere pennies. Putting these individuals in jail or forcing them to pay exorbitant fines is truly unfair.
"Governor Patrick’s casino bill makes no sense," said Harvard Law Professors Charles Nesson, who is also the founder of the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society (GPSTS). "It would encourage the citizens of Massachusetts to spend their money at casinos in person but threaten them with 2-year jail terms for playing the same games over the Internet from the privacy of their homes. There's no question that the provision should be removed. But there is a question about who put it there in the first place. Inquiring minds want to know."
About The Poker Players Alliance
The Poker Players Alliance (www.pokerplayersalliance.org) is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of over 900,000 online and offline poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players' rights.