Submitted Testimony of John Pappas, Poker Players Alliance,
in support of Maryland House Bill 486
Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight
September 18, 2013
Chairwoman King, Chairman Luedtke and distinguished members of the Joint Committee onGaming Oversight, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of HB 486,
theHome Games Protection Bill,
sponsored by Representative Kirill Reznik (D-District 39).My name is John Pappas, and I am the Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA).
The PPA is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to defending the rights of
poker players and promoting poker as a great American pastime. Nationwide the PPA has morethan 1 million members, and in the state of Maryland we boast nearly 14,000 poker activists.For nearly two centuries we have been a nation of poker players. Whether the game wasplayed on a Civil War battlefield, on a Louisiana river boat, at a Las Vegas casino or at yourgrandparent
s kitchen table, Americans have a long time attraction to poker. The popularity andintrigue of the game are rooted in the lessons it teaches. It is a game of strategy, psychologyand mathematics. It teaches patience, money management and strong decision making skills. Itis a game of tremendous skill (peppered with some luck) and many people in the state of Maryland continue to learn the game around kitchen tables. In fact, on any given night within 5miles of the state Capital, there are probably dozens of poker games taking place. I would even
place a small wager that some people in this room played poker in their home, or a friend’s
home, within the past week.Poker has a strong history in Maryland and more history will be made with the recent openingof poker rooms in Maryland casinos. Maryland is also home to some great poker players likeGreg Merson, who won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2012 while wearing hissignature Baltimore Orioles jersey and took home more than $8.5 million for his effort. Gregfollows a long list of Marylanders who have seen professional success on the poker felt. But thebill I have come to support today is not about the professional poker player in Maryland. It isabout the average resident
the doctors, lawyers, school teachers and waiters
Marylandersfrom every walk of life who play poker in their homes and without even knowing it are violatingstate gambling laws.Given the popularity of the game and the rich history poker has in this state, it is no wonderthat we are gathered today to discuss the efficacy of a current state law that makes it illegal toplay poker in a private home or residence in the state of Maryland. The law is arcane,hypocritical and, even if it was enforceable, it raises serious questions whether the
valuable (and limited) law enforcement resources should be spent breaking up innocent pokergames.