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D'Amato: Passionate advocate hopes to lead PPA to million member mark

20 March 2007

Former Senator Alfonse D'Amato is passionate about poker. Whether he's talking about regulating Internet poker in the United States or telling a story about hitting his first royal flush, the excitement is his voice is palpable.

The Poker Players Alliance is betting that D'Amato's engaging personality and political connections will help the organization spread its message on Capitol Hill. D'Amato was named the Chairman of the PPA two weeks ago.

There's no doubt that the guy has flair. He calls Howard Stern a friend, and when asked to name four people he'd like to play poker with, he lists Stern, Donald Trump, Rosie O'Donnell (to "make the game really interesting"), and Ray Romano (to "provide comic relief"). He's even played poker while he was stuck in an elevator in New York City.

The PPA's membership has surged by nearly 40 percent to 220,000 since D'Amato signed on as Chairman. But D'Amato, who represented New York for three terms in the Senate, isn't satisfied.

"Our goal is to (reach one million members) sooner rather than later and grow it as quickly as possible," D'Amato said. "We think we can do it in the next two or three months."

D'Amato's role will be to lobby on behalf of the PPA in his former colleagues' offices on the Capitol. It's a role he's held for Park Strategies, a public policy and business development firm he founded in 1999.

"You don't win these battles simply because someone says 'He's a former colleague, let go support his client or point of view,'" D'Amato said. "You do it by having an opportunity that may be difficult for others to sit down with the staffers on the Hill on both sides."

D'Amato is clear that he's planning on talking to anyone who will listen, from those who railed against the UIGEA like Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), to those who were instrumental in its formation, like Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.).

"It will be our job to visit key members of the Congress, people like John Kyl, and to tell them, 'Look, we think you can achieve your goals and do it in a better, more effective way.'"

D'Amato, former Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a onetime member Senate Finance Committee, believes that he can convince even the most ardent fans of the UIGEA that the unintended consequences of the legislation leave the government in worse shape to deal with the problems the legislation's supporters are hoping to prevent.

"If they want to curb underage gambling, you're certainly not going to curb it with this kind of thing," D'Amato said. "You will simply drive people to offshore facilities that may not have, or who won't be inclined to have the kind of regulatory controls that will see to it that there's an honest game that can be put in place to prevent underage gambling and deal with problem gamblers."

With the UIGEA already on the books, it will be an uphill battle, but at least now the PPA has someone on its side who knows how to win at the poker table and in politics.

D'Amato: Passionate advocate hopes to lead PPA to million member mark is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of 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.

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.