After serving as executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) for more than a decade, John A. Pappas will leave the lobby group at the end of February.
In a press release announcing the change in leadership, the PPA – an advocacy organization dedicated to legalizing online poker – revealed that Pappas would stay on as a member of the board of directors.
Linda Johnson, a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and Pappas’ colleague on the PPA board, celebrated his tenure by outlining online poker’s legislative progress over the last 10 years:
“John is a tremendous leader and a true professional. Under his guidance, PPA has emerged as a policy advocacy and grassroots powerhouse in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the country.
For almost a decade, he has been the political voice and face of the poker community and regulated internet gaming advocates.
He leaves the organization in a strong position to continue to ensure that consumer voices drive the internet gaming debate.”
The PPA was formed in 2005 to protect the rights of online poker players nationwide, and the organization currently counts more than a million members. Following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, the PPA lobbied lawmakers on the state and federal level, seeking both recognition and regulation.
Since that time, four states have legalized online poker – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania – while several others have seriously considered similar legislation.
In his own comments on the move, Pappas pointed to that progress as evidence of the PPA’s successful efforts:
“There has never been greater momentum than right now for the advancement of sensible internet gaming policy in the U.S.
Whether lawmakers are considering poker, casino gambling or even sports betting, a strong and organized grassroots effort will be critical to legislative success. I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA board of directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point.
I will miss working for the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.”
The torch will be passed from Pappas to current PPA vice president Rich Muny, a member of the board of directors since 2007.
Muny issued a statement praising Pappas for his decade of work, while pledging to carry on his predecessor’s legacy into the new year:
“I am honored that the PPA Board of Directors and the poker community have entrusted me with this role, and I join my fellow board members in thanking John Pappas for his decade of outstanding leadership in the fight for poker.
I look forward to leading the poker community in this fight, building on the terrific successes of 2017.”
The PPA didn’t disclose the exact nature of Pappas’ departure, but the press release cited a reduction in donations and fundraising from its usual patrons in the iGaming industry:
“Over the past several months, 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.”
In an interview with Gambling Compliance, Pappas confirmed that a lack of available funds motivated the PPA to change course:
“The organization’s funding has been reduced, and I am unable to continue on in my current capacity.”
The PPA press release concluded with a curious reference to the repeal of a federal ban on sports betting, which is widely expected to be enacted by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. According to the group, it may consider marshalling its membership as a lobbying tool on that front, seeking to motivate individual states still on the fence about setting up their own sports betting industry.