Congressman Barney Frank Visited the WSOP Today
Did Not Arrive in Chariot or With Indian Headdress So Received Little Attention
It was no secret. It has been public information since mid-June, and the PPA announced it days ago that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank made plans to visit the WSOP today. First, he took to the floor of the Amazon Room to speak to the Day 1C players and issue the “shuffle up and deal command,” after which he toured the Rio Convention Center to see poker’s bizness and held a press conference at 1pm. You’d think it might be quite an event for those with any interest in the future of the poker industry.
But while the general reception Frank received in the Amazon Room was positive, it also gave an indication of what kind of struggles his efforts face. Beyond having to deal with the self-promotional shenanigans of Phil Hellmuth and all he brings to the table in the name of poker (for better or worse), behind me on the rail were some poker players/fans/bigots who made hateful gay jokes during his entire short-but-semi-important speech.
Nearing the 1pm start of the press conference in the
Full Tilt Chris Ferguson suite, there were about 5 reporters present. No kidding. By the time Frank began speaking, there were possibly twice that, excluding PPA representatives and Full Tilt Poker bigwigs. Of the 5-8 media outlets represented, ESPN got their headshot early and left, before the speech had hardly started.
Some of what the disinterested might have missed:
~It is likely that the Obama Administration was not behind the Southern District of New York’s seizure of more than $30 million in online poker site payments, though Frank is pursuing answers and will attempt to clarify the role of the Department of Justice in the actions.
~While Frank’s current proposed legislation (H.R. 2267) may not be heard in committee until September, it is a priority for Frank to push his companion legislation (H.R. 2266) that will delay the implementation of the UIGEA through 2010.
Meanwhile, everyone else was standing outside the Rio waiting for Phil Hellmuth to arrive in a chariot with scantily-clad chicks, then following him down the hall like he was
someone important President Obama. After that embarrassment spectacle, I noticed that there was more media interested in interviewing a WSOP player wearing a full-length Indian headdress than were in the Frank press conference.
I just can’t help but wonder if the people who ignored Frank’s presence today will be the same ones asking why the delay in passing pro-poker legislation, or why their online poker funds are frozen, or why they have trouble finding work in the poker industry.