3 poker pros speak out on eve of House hearing on online ban

SPORTS DIGEST

April 05, 2006|By BILL ORDINE

Three prominent poker players participated in a Capitol Hill news conference yesterday voicing objections to proposed federal legislation that would ban Internet poker, along with other types of online gambling.

Howard Lederer, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and Greg Raymer, who all have affiliations with online poker Web sites, discussed two anti-Internet gambling bills, particularly one being pushed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican.

Goodlatte's bill, which faces a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee today, would expand a federal law that already prohibits sports gambling. Among concerns voiced by the bill's proponents is underage online gambling.

Lederer made a distinction between poker as a game of skill and games of pure chance, and also advocated federal regulation of online poker. The Poker Players Alliance, an advocacy group, said a recent survey showed that nearly 75 percent of those polled said the federal government should not prevent Americans from playing poker on the Internet.

"I think Washington needs to hear that this is going to be very unpopular and I think a lot of people out there need to know that this is actually happening," Lederer said. "A lot of people are going to find out about this legislation after it's already happened and ... [say], `Wait, they're going to take this away from me?' "

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