US iGaming advocacy group the Poker Players Alliance is considering expanding its focus to boost support for sports betting legislation as long-serving executive director John Pappas prepares to step down.
Pappas is to leave his role as executive director at the end of February after more than a decade in charge of the group. Current vice president Rich Muny is to take over Pappas' responsibilities, becoming PPA president.
"John is a tremendous leader and a true professional. Under his guidance, PPA has emerged as a policy advocacy and grassroots powerhouse in Washington DC and in state capitals across the country," PPA board member and former chair Linda Johnson said.
"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."
Pappas' departure comes with the Alliance adjusting to a "significant" reduction in financial support from the iGaming industry, the PPA said. As a result it had repositioned itself as a grassroots advocacy group, and claims to have been "an instrumental force" in the legalisation of online gaming in Pennsylvania.
"There has never been greater momentum than right now for the advancement of sensible internet gaming policy in the US," Pappas said. "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," he said. "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."
Muny added: "I am honoured 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."
As a result of the shift towards grassroots advocacy, the PPA is currently gauging its members' interest in legalised US sports betting.
It said that with potential changes to federal and state sports betting laws a distinct possibility in 2018, it was keen to ascertain whether it could leverage its advocacy efforts to aid the development of new public policy. The PPA has launched a dedicated sports betting website, and is conducting a survey of its members on their interest in sports betting.