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Why So Little Interest in Frank's WSOP Appearance?

July 7, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Perhaps it was to be expected, given all the celebrities, models, actors, and poker pros on hand to gawk at, that a speech by a politician at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) over the weekend wouldn’t generate very much enthusiasm.

At least, not as much as was hoped for by some in the industry — especially those who feel that Barney Frank is the online poker world’s best hope for full legalization in the United States (a development that would likely put lots of extra cash in the pockets of gambling affiliates worldwide).

Over at, writer California Jen compared the lackluster turnout for Frank’s speech with the general difficulty the Congressman has faced in his years-long battle to repeal the UIGEA.

“You’d think it might be quite an event for those with any interest in the future of the poker industry,” writes Jen, “But while the general reception Frank received … 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,” she continues. “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.”

So how can the industry expect much from Rep. Frank when the cream of the professional poker world isn’t even willing to hear him speak out on an issue so near and dear to them … in Las Vegas, in the middle of an event the whole poker world is attending?

Perhaps the community shouldn’t be blamed too much, since the speech took place in the middle of a holiday weekend, and during the WSOP’s huge Main Event kick-off celebration, to boot. There were plenty of other distractions, as there always are in Las Vegas.

Still, as California Jen writes, it’s easy to 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.”

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