2. Why does the United States need a backgammon league?
Currently, live over-the-board backgammon in the United States is a gamblers' game. Most, if not all, competitive over-the-board backgammon tournaments across the country charge a mandatory entry fee and then pay back approximately 80%-90% of the entry fees in prize money. But the popularity of live play has been decreasing since its peak in the 1970's, partly due to many gamblers moving from backgammon to poker, where there is currently more prize money available. The United States Backgammon League aims to revive popularity in over-the-board play by allowing competitors to earn national ratings instead of for prize money, without risking large entry fees.
Online backgammon sites that hold online tournaments without prize money -- such as DailyGammon, FIBS, International Backgammon Alliance, and MSN Zone - have proven that there are thousands of backgammon players who enjoy playing in tournaments even when there is no money involved. Besides just the enjoyment of the game, the only "prize" that most online winners receive is an increase in their rating on the site. Players take great enjoyment in seeing their rating go up over time. It is a quantification of their skill in the game and a very motivating factor that brings people back to play more and more often. But unfortunately, over the past decades, there has been no national rating system for live backgammon, like there has been for live chess and live bridge.
The United States Backgammon League aims to change this. It requires that affiliate clubs either charge no entry fee for their tournaments, or a very small entry fee just to cover a director's promotional efforts. This encourages more beginner and fixed-income players to participate. And all players enjoy the benefit of having a national ranking system so that finally over-the-board play is rated for all players just as online play already is.