PPA Highlights the Benefits of Poker Tourism at Michigan Hearing

The Michigan Senate Regulatory Reform Committee held a hearing on May 4th to discuss the possible legalisation of online gambling, and in particular the online poker bill (SB889) submitted by Senator Mike Kowall in April. John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance, was called upon to testify at the hearing, and during his address took the opportunity to highlight the link between online and live poker, and how the former has historically help drive the popularity of live poker events held at land-based venues.
The “poker tourism” argument used by Pappas was in sharp contrast to the past in which the emphasis has usually been placed upon the importance of boosting an individual state’s potential tax revenues, or the need to ensure an adequate level of consumer protection for gamblers. Moreover, highlighting the benefits that poker tourism may provide could now become a potent argument to support the drive towards legalised online gambling.
The poker tourism argument refers to the money tourists could potentially spend on live poker event being hosted in the state, that may otherwise go to other nearby states, which presumably will be more pronounced in those areas where online poker is already regulated. As Pappas subsequently explained to the Michigan Regulatory Reform Committee:
“Online poker will also be a unique driver for tourism in Michigan. The coupling of the online game with the state’s tribal and state-licensed poker offerings will make Michigan the mid-west centre for regulated poker. It will bring first class poker tournaments to the state drawing players from all over the country and even the world. This type of “Poker Tourism” will fill hotel rooms and restaurants and can be strategically planned to enhance commerce during times of the year when traditional tourism is off its peak.”
Recent examples of online poker contributing to a place’s poker tourism includes the traffic boost PokerStars provided to the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City during the ‘Run It Up: Resorts Rumble’ hosted by Jason Somerville, or that it is expected to provide during the Americas Cup of Poker final scheduled to be held at the same venue towards the end of June. In addition, players may be escorted by some of their friends and families who will then eat, shop, and perhaps gamble while in town, thus providing even more tourism dollars for a state.

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