Several of the biggest names in poker, which include Johnny Chan, Annie Duke, Howard Lederer and Phil Hellmuth joined forces last weekend with entertainment celebrities and NFL sports stars for a charity poker tournament at the Golden nugget Casino in Las Vegas. The event raised money for the Starkey Hearing Foundation and Pros for Africa, a non-profit organization, which provides for children in need in Africa.
Unfortunately, the NFL saw the involvement of its players in the gambling event as a “no go.” The League received word about the activity and disallowed its players to participate. A total of about thirty NFL stars showed up to play and help the benefit. All were only allowed to contribute their support from the sidelines.
The NFL is known as a major adversary of online gambling. The NFL lobbyists were among the first in line to fight against Congressman Barney Frank and his plans to regulate online gambling.
This controversy between the NFL and online poker began in 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed. U.S. access to online poker and gambling was made more difficult, and the NFL fought to ensure that fantasy football was exempt from the bill. After the NFL won the battle, the league pulled all strings to keep its billion-dollar brand name away from anything related to gambling.
After the development of Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (HR 2267) in July of last year, it was reported that the NFL had lightened up its advocacy against to poker. The bill aimed to regulate internet gambling and, at the same time, outlawed online sports betting, which supposedly relieved the NFL of any concerns about poker in the U.S.
Yet, the actions of the NFL last Saturday display an entirely different perception on the matter. The charity event was still tallied as successful. Over 350 people participated for a buy-in of $2,000 with $500 re-buys. Some celebs on the scene were Steve Martin, Don Cheadle, Kevin Sorbo, Jordin Sparks and Lou Ferrigno.
Big prizes were given away for the benefit including a 2011 CSM #2 Shelby Mustang, iPads, and adventure trips to Africa, Mexico and South America. Supporters for the Starkey Hearing Foundation were most pleased with the outcome.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation was funded in 1984, and strives to create awareness for the change of the social consciousness of hearing and hearing loss prevention. Through its endeavors, the Starkey Hearing Foundation delivers more than 100,000 hearing aids throughout the world.