Chairman Dempsey, Chairman Spilka and distinguished members of the Committee …My name is Randy Castonguay and I represent more than 25,000 Massachusetts members of the PokerPlayers Alliance, or the PPA. The PPA is the largest grassroots advocacy organization in the UnitedStates protecting the rights of more than 1 million poker enthusiasts nationwide.I speak to you today as a proud resident of the Commonwealth and a proud poker player. I was born,raised, work and continue to live in Central Massachusetts. Poker has always played an important rolein my life. Unlike simple games of chance, poker is a strategic game of skill. It teaches you patience,decision making, math, money management and psychology. Like so many others, I learned the gamefrom my father during family poker nights with all of us gathered around the table for an evening of funand fellowship.Today millions of Americans, and an estimated quarter million Bay Staters, play poker on the Internet.In fact, at this very moment thousands of Massachusetts residents are playing poker on the Internet.The game has simply evolved into the 21
Century and moved from the kitchen table to the computertable.Sadly, while the game has evolved, the way politicians think about it has not. It is hard to believe thatwhen gaming expansion legislation was introduced two years ago and again this year, the bills includedprovisions that make poker on the Internet a crime punishable by 2 years in prison and a $25,000.00fine! Never mind the blatant hypocrisy of criminalizing poker in the very same bills that would establishcasinos in the state and slot machines at race tracks, but the idea of sending someone to prison forplaying penny-ante poker is an outrage. Thankfully the authors of these bills recognized their errorwhen their offices were flooded with phone calls and emails from angry constituents and have agreed topull the criminalization language. As legislation continues to move, my 25,000 fellow PPA members andI will be watching closely to ensure that our game and the people who play it are not criminalized.As the volunteer PPA State Director for Massachusetts I have both the obligation of not only protectingplayers’ rights, but also advancing them. As this Committee discusses the pros and cons of regulatingexpanded gaming in our Commonwealth, it would also be appropriate for it to consider the existingInternet poker play that is occurring today without any state oversight or control. Regulation of Internetpoker is not expansion of gambling, it is simply the responsible government response to an industry thatexists today. The knee-jerk reaction of an Internet gaming prohibition will be doomed to failure. Thefederal efforts to do so have proven this time and again. We cannot put the genie back in the bottle,and like it or not, Internet poker is here to stay. The only question is how to regulate it.It bears mentioning that one of this state’s prominent Congressional leaders, Chairman Barney Frank, isspearheading the effort in the U.S. House to regulate and tax poker and other games over the Internet.We wholeheartedly support Chairman Frank’s effort, but also recognize that our own state can lead theway and serve as a model for effective regulation nationwide.Regulation of Internet poker is first and foremost an issue of consumer protection. We want theassurance that we are playing on fair and honest Web sites and these sites are held accountable.