PPA Shifting Focus to Sports Betting, Executive Director John Pappas Stepping Down

3 min read

Fighting for nationwide online poker legislation will always be important to the Poker Players Alliance, an organization founded in 2005 that stands up for the rights of poker players. But with a reduction in financial support from the internet gaming industry (translation: PokerStars), the non-profit PPA is shifting some of its focus to sports betting.

John Pappas of the PPA
John Pappas will be stepping down from his role as executive director of the Poker Players Alliance at the end of February. (Image: pokerstars.com)

The organization announced in a press release that John Pappas, after more than a decade in his position, will step down as Executive Director. He will be replaced by the current Vice President, Rich Muny.

Pappas will stick around as a strategic advisor to the PPA and continue serving on the board of directors. In a press release announcing the move, poker Hall of Famer and PPA board member Linda Johnson referred to Pappas as a “tremendous leader” who “has been a political voice and face of the poker community.”

Under his guidance, the PPA has had many accomplishments beneficial to the poker community, over the past decade, including educating lawmakers on the benefits of legalized online poker and working with the Department of Justice following Black Friday in 2011 to ensure players got paid.

Current PPA Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny will assume the role of executive director in Pappas’ absence.

Grassroots Special Interest

It takes money to keep a non-profit alive and, according to the PPA, the internet poker industry just isn’t bringing in enough dough these days. That has forced the organization to shift some of its focus to fighting for legalized sports betting across the United States.

“The PPA has been adjusting to a significant reduction in financial support from the internet gaming industry and thusly has refocused its efforts on cost effective grassroots advocacy,” read a statement from the PPA.

The PPA has emailed a survey to its members to gauge their interest in sports betting. The group has also added a sports betting page to its website to inform poker players who love sports about current and upcoming legislation.

A whopping 92 percent of PPA members surveyed last fall said they approve of sports betting legislation if online poker was included.

Will Legal Sports Betting Happen?

Sports betting advocates are awaiting a decision from the US Supreme Court on federal sports betting legislation. Currently, only Nevada accepts wagers on sporting events. But that could all change later this year if the Supreme Court rules individual states have a right to license sportsbook operators.

Pennsylvania, for example, with its recently passed gambling expansion law, is now positioned to regulate and license sportsbooks should the Supreme Court rule accordingly.

Several other states, including Iowa, which saw a pro-sports betting bill advance through the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, are gearing up to one day accept legal wagers on sporting events.

The Supreme Court’s pending decision on former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s challenge of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which outlaws sports betting in all but four states, is expected to be made by the end of June, but could come as early as next month, according to ESPN.

If New Jersey wins its case, many states could have the right to pass pro-sports gambling legislation.

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