The Poker Players Alliance--foremost among today's American poker advocacy groups--exists to fill two essential roles in the socio-political culture. Most obviously, they do their part to keep U.S. legislators informed of public opinion. To that end, they work through public and private channels to demonstrate to members of Congress the breadth and depth of the American public's support for legalized and regulated online gambling on games of skill such as poker.
Their second key role is the inverse of the first: to keep the general public informed of Congressional bills, votes, and proposals that affect the poker world. Consequently, they must keep an eye on the instruments of that congressional machine--the congressmen themselves--to adequately assess the outlook of poker legislation in the U.S.
One of the main ways the PPA accomplishes this second goal is with their bi-annual Congressional Ratings Guide. This comprehensive report assesses Senators and House Representatives individually, and gives each one a grade summarizing their support or lack thereof for poker players rights. The guide uses a standard scholastic ratings scale, where an "A" represents the top score--in this case, a deep commitment to the cause of online poker legalization--and an "F" represents a failing grade--staunch opposition to bills and policies that are in the interests of poker playing U.S. citizens.
The Ratings Guide uses four criteria to determine each legislator's grade:
1) Co-sponsorship of pro-poker legislation (House and Senate).
2) Votes for or against pro-poker legislation in the House Financial Services Committee and in the full House.
3) Letters sent on behalf of or against poker players' rights.
4) Public statements, constituent letter, or actions for or against poker players' rights.
On September 14th, the PPA released the 2010 edition of the ratings guide.
Encouragingly, the data reveal that congressional support for poker players' rights is on the rise. In the PPA's previous edition of the Ratings Guide, released in 2008, 258 legislators received a "D" or an "F." This year, that number has been reduced to 194. Equally gratifying, 91 members of Congress earned an "A" in this year's assessment.
The guide also contains a feature that allows poker-supporting constituents to send an email directly to their legislative representatives. By enabling and encouraging such open lines of communication, the PPA hopes to amplify the voice of support for pro-poker legislation, a voice that has too often been drowned out by conservative, so-called "family values" organizations.
The appearance of the guide at this time in this year is not a coincidence. The elections on November 2nd will give millions of Americans the chance to argue their case with votes, rather than just with letters and protests. As former Senator and current chairman of the PPA, Alfonse D'Amato, explains, "this guide is a valuable resource for PPA members--and all poker players in the country--as they choose to support candidates who support their right and freedom to play poker."
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