Poker Club Owner Pledges $1.2M to Start a Poker Players’ Union

Union could help grow poker

by - Monday, September 6th, 2021 7:54


Rob Yong, the owner of Nottingham’s Dusk Till Dawn club and partner of Party Poker has called for the creation of a poker players union. In a tweet on September 3rd Yong outlined the purposes of the union as being:

  1. To lobby regulators on a variety of issues, such as regulation and restrictions of poker, segregated liquidity and taxation (such as the recent tax imposed on online cash games in Germany)
  2. To lobby operators to ensure they follow policies that are ‘good for poker’
  3. To generally promote the game of poker

Essentially the proposed organisation would be there to give a voice to the poker community, to insert itself into the existing debate, which is dominated by regulators and operators. 

This provoked a lively discussion, with Yong clarifying his thoughts on the matter in one reply, saying:

“Operators want rake, governments want tax…both want money from players – how can players not have any voice?”

Overall support was positive in the tweet’s accompanying poll, with over 2,300 votes:

  • Waste of Time: 21%
  • Good Thing: 65%
  • Don’t Care: 14%

Suggestions of causes for the union to lobby for included making live poker legal in Northern Ireland and online poker legal in Poland. 

While most like the idea, some pointed out the practical difficulties of running such an organisation, with funding being the key problem to sustaining such an organisation. Thomas Udness, founder of the first legal live tournament in Norway suggested:

“It might be easier to ask the big online companies to give in bulk than rely on players?”

Veteran poker reporter BJ Nemeth weighed in, suggesting that while players would benefit from such a union, it would be hard to see how it would work in practice:

“I just cant picture enough players (1) consistently paying dues, or (2) following the advice of union leadership. There is a vibe of “every person for themselves” among players”

Having slept on the matter for a couple of days, Yong has now more than doubled down on his idea in a further video tweet, by offering a staggering $1.2m commitment over the next five years for running costs plus his own time working on it, to get the project up and running.

Expanding further on his thoughts for the union, Yong suggested the group should be open not just to players, but to operators, casinos, poker media, affiliates and employees working in the industry. In short, all interested parties who in some way participate, whether recreationally, professionally or as a service provider. 

Initial feedback on this announcement has been overwhelmingly positive, but Yong still recognises that its a long shot to actually go ahead. However with many of the early responders offering to help in any way they can, he is now more confident than his initial 3% estimate of the chance of it getting off the ground.

Jonathan Raab

Jonathan began his career in 1998 as one of the first employees of start-up betting site Blue Square. Having developed the first ever affiliate marketing program for a UK online bookmaker, Jonathan switched his attentions to poker, developing live events and tours, first for Grosvenor Casinos and then for PokerStars. Tours created include Grosvenor UK Poker Tour and Eureka Poker Tour. Staff Person of the Year 2008, European Poker Awards. During the poker boom of 2005-2010 he wrote for many poker publications, including Poker Europa magazine and Poker Player Newspaper