It was Abraham Lincoln that once said: ‘Things may come to those that wait, but only the things left by those that hustle.” Martin ‘PokerXanadu’ Shapiro is a 55-year old real estate investor, a semi-professional poker player, and a man whos values run along the fabric of that very sentence.
While the vast majority of online poker players, in the United States, wait for somebody to do something to push forward the federal legalization of online poker, Shapiro decided to stand up and be counted. He has put fingers to keys to create the Internet Wagering Citizens Protection Act (IWCPA), his own personal bill for the legalization of online poker at a federal level.
“Since the passage of the UIGEA, in 2006, I have read and analyzed every bill on online poker or online gambling. In the beginning it was ok to sit back and say these bills are good and that we have to support them, even though they are not perfect or don’t really do everything that poker players need, but now that’s not good enough. We need to show our support for such legislation and instead of having a bill passed and then amended somewhere along the way, I felt it was important to get the poker players needs met right from the outset.”
Like most American online poker players, Shapiro found online poker in the onset of Chris Moneymaker’s 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) success. Shapiro started to play online for small amounts before progressing to forms of Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) in his local casinos. As he makes his living ostensibly playing live, Black Friday didn’t affect him as much as some, but playing online poker is something he sorely misses, and a freedom of choice that has been taken away from him. This is why Shapiro decided to get out of the stand and head into the field.
“The legislation doesn’t really provide what poker players really need. So it reached a point where I thought I had to put forward something what would work for us, rather than just wait to be given something. So I took the latest bill efforts from senator Reid, reps King and Barton and built upon that a bill that could actually be passed that meets the political realities, or the compromises that have to be made, but also incorporates everything that’s right for poker players.”
This was a lonely furrow for Shapiro, who without any legal background whatsoever grinded out the bill in just three weeks.
“I don’t have any legal background. I just have great reading comprehension and a love for that type of writing. So I took what I knew, looked at the bills that already existed and tweaked them to get something that I felt poker needed.”
So what does this bill contain that all those that have passed before it failed to encompass?
“There are a couple of aspects that were very important, things that poker players needed. Segregation and protection of player funds, what constitutes a poker game, the shuffle and the deal – what protections have to be provided, how to determine cheating and fraud and testing and certification of systems, important things for poker players that lawmakers might not necessarily be aware of; also opt-ins for states and tribes, multi-jurisdictional participation and bad actor provisions; various things of that nature that were written in ways that didn’t protect players at all. They were written in a language that was deficient and would have resulted in bad results for the players.”
So Shapiro is now the proud owner of the IWCPA, but what on earth is he going to do with it?
“I don’t expect my bill to be taken as the one that is passed in congress. I don’t have the political clout to bring that about. Instead, it’s a model for lawmakers to work on. So my goal is to get this in front of the key lawmakers in congress. Get it into their hands and say this is what we really want, what can you do with it?”
You can help Martin ‘Poker Xanadu’ Shapiro by logging onto his website at www.pokerloversunion.org/iwcpa, downloading the bill and sending it to your lawmakers with a covering note advising them to use it as a tool to help push online poker legislation through congress.