PPA Calls for Donations, Suggests End-of-March Shutdown
The financial writing may be on the wall for the Poker Players Alliance, the largest United States-based lobbying group pushing forward the interests of poker — players and industry alike — in the States. Faced with waning corporate funding, the PPA has released multiple e-mails to its membership in recent days, suggesting that if the lobbying group can’t raise $25,000 by the end of March, it may have to shut its virtual doors.
A new message posted at the PPA website (https://theppa.org) by incoming Executive Director Rich Muny makes clear the lobbying entity’s near-empty bank account.
Wrote Muny, “This is a period of challenge for PPA. Over the past several months, we have been adjusting to a significant reduction in donations from the internet gaming industry, this despite our successes in Pennsylvania just a few months ago. We now find ourselves possibly shutting down right before what could be the biggest year for iPoker and iGaming yet.”
Corporate Funding Slows to a Trickle
The primary reason for the PPA’s dire financial straits is likely the withdrawal of funding by its previous major corporate donor, the company now known as The Stars Group. This parent company of PokerStars, formerly known as Amaya, Inc., was a contributor to the PPA dating all the way back to the post-UIGEA days of a decade ago. However, though the PPA’s latest forms regarding financing have yet to be published, the PPA itself has managed barely six figures in political donations itself over the past two years.
According to OpenSecrets.org, the Poker Players Alliance managed only $105,000 in federally recorded expenditures in 2017. $40,000 of that total went to a third party, Pennsylvania-based CSA Strategies, in connection with the successful legislative effort to legalize online poker in that state.
However, there’s a chance that the Pennsylvania victory might be the PPA’s last such contribution to a legislative triumph. Said Muny, “PPA cannot continue fighting for poker if we do not meet our fundraising goal of $25,000 by the end of March. With support from poker players and enthusiasts like you, we can easily make this goal.”
Muny added, “Every dollar donated will go toward core operational expenses of our grassroots communications and advocacy, as our communications tools are crucial to PPA’s mission.” As always, the PPA’s site is peppered with buttons linking to donation portals for interested supporters. Whether or not the membership can be converted into a larger funding bloc, however, is far from clear. During the post-UIGEA financed heyday of the PPA, the group received more than 99% of its funding from corporate sources.
Muny takes over the PPA’s leadership reins from outgoing PPA Executive Director John Pappas as of the first of March, and it’s going to fall upon Muny’s shoulders to make sure his role lasts longer than a single month. The financial hardships facing the group are almost certainly the primary reason why Pappas, a career DC lobbyist, has jumped ship, though Pappas is remaining with the PPA as a strategic advisor and a member of the PPA’s board of directors, twin roles not previously disclosed in the PPA’s announcement about Pappas’s departure.
Sports Betting Topic Expansion Offers Glimmer of Hope
Muny also continued to hype the possible conversion and expansion of the PPA into a group representing consumer interests in other forms of gambling, in particular sports betting.
The PPA’s new voice offered this on that topic: “As I mentioned earlier, we are asking everyone to complete a survey on the topic of sports betting and consumer advocacy. With changes to federal and state laws governing sports betting being considered this year, it is important to know if our large and organized advocacy efforts can be leveraged in the sports betting fight. With state-authorized sports betting (bricks-and-mortar as well and online) shaping up as the next gaming battle, we are positioned perfectly to expand into this area, helping us gain potential new activists and donors while ensuring poker is included in legislative sports betting discussions.”
Added Muny, “If you have not yet done so, please take a moment to answer ten quick survey questions. Your thoughts on sports betting are critically important.”
We’ll keep an eye on the PPA’s struggle to transition, survive, and move forward. The group was founded back in 2005, and it hopes that 13 (years) won’t be an unlucky number.