PokerStars Form Agreement With California Tribes

A PokerStars Coalition Is Announced At Californian Internet Gambling Hearing

PokerStars red spade logoWith legislation being considered once more to regulate online poker and gaming in California the Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStars, have finalized an agreement with The Morongo Band Of Mission Indians, the Hawaiian Gardens Casino, the Bicycle Casino and the Commerce Club. The deal, announced on Wednesday, could mark the formation of a powerful coalition once regulation is passed within the state whose economy is the world’s 8th largest.

According to a press release PokerStars role will be to “"serve as the subcontractor providing the online poker platform and related services for a real money online poker website to be licensed, owned, and operated by an entity owned by the Tribe and the card clubs,”.

PokerStars, the largest international online poker room, has struggled to gain acceptance from by the legalised states due to objections regarding their role in the US market post 2006.

PokerStars Form Agreement With California Tribe – No Names And Bad Actors

The deal was unveiled during Wednesday’s hearing in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee arranged to discuss the pros and cons of online gambling including discussion of the 2291 online poker bill. During the meeting a large amount of time was taken up discussing whether or not to allow an “unnamed vendor” - the actual site was not mentioned once in the 5 hour session although everybody silently agreed it started with a “P” and ended with a “Stars”.

Many objections to the ‘unnamed site’, came from the Indian tribes. Some tribal representatives spoke of only allowing those with “a record of compliance” into California’s poker market while others stated the need to keep out ‘bad actors’ – a phrase used to describe those companies conducting business in the US after the passing of UIGEA in 2006.

It is a ‘bad actor’ clause which has halted PokerStars entry into the Nevada market for a decade.

PokerStars Form Agreement With California Tribe – Morongo & Casinos Speak Out In Favor

The Monrongo Band chairman, Robert Martin, took a distinctly different view to his tribal peers, defending the position of his new partners. Martin described the ‘bad actor’ language of the bill as “a smokescreen designed to block a single vendor… just to give a competitive advantage to others”. He went onto argue that merely looking at a 2006 cut-off was not enough to define a ‘bad actor’ and the full history of a company has to be taken into account. Brian Nestande, Committee Vice-Chair, took this onboard and later suggested tribes were attempting to define a ‘bad actor’ in different ways to state’s existing gambling regulations.

As the conversation progressed onto the licensed card clubs panel, there was strong support for the idea of legal online poker. All participants were generally positive for online poker and the benefits it would bring to land-based clubs and state tax revenue. Keith Sharp, general counsel at Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Bicycle Casino online poker counsel expressed hope that legislators would not accommodate those companies simply unwilling to compete.

Ron Sarabi, Hawaiian Garden’s chairman, finished the discussion by noting players regard ‘Unamed-Stars’ as the most “trustworthy” company in the business.

PokerStars Form Agreement With California Tribe – California Next To Legalize Poker?

All this bodes very well for PokerStars after they were blocked from Nevada and suffered many setbacks in their failed attempts to enter New Jersey. In California they appear to have formed alliances with the right partners in order to both promote a safe online poker experience and themselves as a legitimate company.

Unfortunately there will not be any quick movement for the millions of Californian poker players. The two proposed bills are currently still under consideration, although it is agreed that California will likely be one of the next states to join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey by introducing legislation.

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