PPA releases Joker list of politicians

South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham is one of the most prominent “jokers” on the PPA’s target list of anti-online gambling proponents. (Image: UPI/Kevin Dietsch)

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has created a list of 22 politicians that the organization is referring to as “jokers,” highlighting lawmakers who are up for election in November and who also oppose Internet poker. The individuals on the list include candidates for the Senate, House of Representatives and gubernatorial positions, and feature both Republicans and Democrats who have opposed online gambling.

“Over the past year, these ‘jokers’ have advocated for federal and/or state prohibitions for Internet poker. Some have even sought to criminalize those who play,” the PPA’s statement says. “We hope you will take the time to contact these lawmakers before Election Day and let your voice be heard. It’s time to take the ‘jokers’ out of the deck!”

Most on List Are Likely to Win Elections

Many of the targets are expected to cruise to reelection victories this year. Those include big names, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who sponsored bills favored by Sheldon Adelson which would redefine the Wire Act to ban most forms of online gambling.

Perhaps the most vulnerable name on the list is that of Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida. He is locked in a very tight battle with former governor Charlie Crist, with nearly every recent poll showing a virtual dead heat between the two men. Scott has helped bring some of the toughest anti-online gambling laws in the country to Florida, a move that even caused subscription poker sites that are legal in most states to pull out of the market there.

Republicans Dominate List

Looking at the overall list, 17 of the PPA’s appointed “jokers” are Republicans, while just five are Democrats. This is not terribly surprising: while there are supporters and detractors of online gambling on both sides of the aisle, the national GOP platform includes a plank in favor of banning online gambling, and Adelson, a prominent donor to the party, is passionately in favor of such a ban. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has no official position on the issue, giving members less incentive to come out for an online poker ban.

Perhaps the most prominent Democrat who did make the list was Martha Coakley, a candidate for governor in Massachusetts. The PPA says that Coakley made the list because of “multiple public statements against online poker and gaming.” Four Democratic House members are also included on the list.

On the PPA’s page dedicated to “The Jokers,” a photograph of each politician is displayed. Clicking on the photos offers information on why they made the list, along with contact information for that lawmaker. While the PPA doesn’t explicitly tell members to vote against these candidates, it does ask that they contact them in order to let them know that online gaming is an important issue to voters.

Several of the listed candidates have made waves in the world of online poker in recent years, even if they aren’t yet well-known to the general public. Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor in Texas, is also the state’s Attorney General, and was one of the key signatories to a letter by 15 attorneys general asking for a federal online poker ban. Marco Scavello may only be a State Representative in Pennsylvania, but gained notoriety for becoming the lead sponsor on a bill that would have criminalized online poker in the state.