Poker Players Alliance Acquired by Poker Central, Renamed Poker Alliance
The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the largest lobbying group in the United States representing various aspects of the poker community, will be taken over by online poker-content streaming company Poker Central and renamed as the Poker Alliance, effective immediately.
The move to Poker Central for the former PPA, now Poker Alliance, returns a form of corporate backing for the poker-focused lobbying and research group. The PPA had been over 99% corporate-backed since its inception in 2005 until the last of its earlier corporate backers, PokerStars, pulled its support for the group at the end of 2017.
The acquisition of the PPA’s assets and lobbying tools likely rescues the group and its efforts from financial oblivion. A fundraising effort by current PPA Executive Director Rich Muny to raise $25,000 for short-term operational needs fell flat; that effort, which took place in March, netted only about a fourth of that goal in the face of some player resentment over previous PPA efforts and actions.
The collective player-based resentment toward the old PPA had much to do with the group’s claims to be a grassroots, player-based group, while acting more in concert with the interests of its corporate benefactors. That long-standing image dilemma is solved in part by the dropping of the “Players” part of the lobbying group moniker, even though players’ interests will still be part of the new Poker Alliance’s efforts.
According to outgoing PPA Executive Director Rich Muny, who spoke to this writer last night, “One benefit to this new structure is that we no longer have a financial reliance on membership. We continue to serve members and only ask for their grassroots support.”
That and other important points about the PPA’s transition to the Poker Alliance will be announced in a FAQ posted on the PA’s new home, pokeralliance.com, today.
The future direction mapped by the Poker Alliance will take some time to develop, but for now, a tight focus on poker and poker only will mark the PA’s renewed efforts. Muny, in his now-ending role with the old PPA, had surveyed that group’s player membership to see if a transition to more generalized consumer-based gambling and sports-betting topics might win consumer support and backing. The group’s takeover by Poker Central makes such a horizontal expansion unnecessary for the time being.
The new head of the Poker Alliance will be Poker Central’s Mark Brenner. More information on Brenner’s background and what he brings to the poker-lobbying effort is expected to be released by the Poker Alliance in the near future.
Both Muny and the PPA’s prior Executive Director, John Pappas, will stay on with the new Poker Alliance in an advisory role for at least the next three months. The fate of the remainder of the PPA’s board of directors has not been announced; a couple of those board members have served virtually since the PPA’s inception in 2005.
Nonetheless, the acquisition has to be good news for poker’s lobbying efforts, no matter the name of specific “player” focus. As Muny admitted, the old PPA had been “running on fumes,” its remaining workers contributing on an unpaid, volunteer basis and its DC-based office closed down. The financial infusion and transition allows pro-poker efforts to continue in states such as Michigan, where an online-gambling legalization effort will get continued legislative attention this fall.
Poker Central also operates the PokerGO streaming service and owns other poker-related entities such as the Poker Masters series. Poker Central’s primary owner is Cary Katz, owner of a successful student-loans company and a frequent participant in high-roller poker tournaments. Other prominent pro players are minority owners in Poker Central. Those players include Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari, and others.