My name is Jason Somerville, and if you know one thing about me, it's that I believe people ought to have the freedom to be who they are and follow their own passions. Well, one of my passions is playing online poker, but unfortunately I can only play on a regulated site in three states in the U.S. That's 47 states and the District of Columbia where I can't play safe, regulated online poker.
I could, however, spend $100 online to buy lottery tickets, bet on horse races, or fire on daily fantasy sports in most of those other states.
This is crazy, hypocritical, and un-American. I've been telling everybody who will listen just how absurd it is. I tell lawmakers and journalists I meet (such as when I appeared on CNBC recently), and I rant about it regularly to my Run It Up Legion on my Twitch stream at runitup.tv.
During the World Series of Poker last month, PokerStars and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) invited me to appear on a panel discussion in Las Vegas. We talked about the status of online poker regulation, where it's headed in the near future, and what people can do to support it.
It was really encouraging to hear John Pappas, the executive director of the PPA, talk about real progress that's being made in many states, including California, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That progress is finally happening because the PPA, with support from PokerStars, is driving change. The PPA is educating lawmakers about online poker and explaining to them how regulation delivers badly needed consumer protection for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are already playing online poker on unregulated sites. And it also delivers significant tax revenue for the states that regulate it.
I invented a term for this: I call it a "win-win".
But as you're probably aware, this progress has been slow in coming. We've been trying to get poker regulated in the U.S. via various means for a decade now. As John Pappas explained at our panel discussion, that's just the way of modern politics - it's a slow, frustrating slog of lobbying sessions, draft legislation, hearings, amendments, negotiations, more hearings, more draft bills, and then more lobbying sessions.
Though it's been agonizing at times, we are finally seeing the tide turn across the country, in large thanks to the PPA and PokerStars. There's still a lot of fighting to be done - but together, we can make change happen."
There is one singular ultimate force that can help us bring legislation across the country: voter interest. A lawmaker has a few dozen things that he or she is thinking about on any given day, but (because an elected official loves to get re-elected) one of the things they think the most about are the things that their constituents tell them they're thinking about.
That's where you come in.
I urge you to make your voice heard by visiting the PPA's website. They make it painless for poker fans to make a difference by guiding you on how to reach out to your lawmakers. It's quick, free, and effective in our #Fight4Poker across the US. Since I'm all about customer service,
I'll make it easy for you. Click on this: theppa.org
As soon as you get there, you'll see a big banner about our aforementioned #Fight4Poker. Click on that and you'll see how to easy the PPA have made it to send a Tweet or an email to lawmakers in your state demanding that they regulate online poker. Regulating online poker protects consumers and provides meaningful tax revenue for infrastructure or education. If necessary, you can explain my "win-win" concept to them.
It's absurd that regulated online poker is not already available across America; poker is a beautiful, social, American game of wits and wagers and we should have the freedom to play online and be protected. It is beyond time that all Americans be able to sit in our respective dirty basements and play together on a safe and secure regulated poker site.
My name is Jason Somerville and the next link you're clicking on is: theppa.org
Jason Somerville is a member of Team PokerStars Pro and is an outspoken advocate for regulated online poker. He's also the founder of the Run It Up, a popular daily Twitch livestream where he plays poker on PokerStars. Follow him on runitup.tv or @jasonsomerville on Twitter.