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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Statement addressing California opponents released by PokerStars

The Bear State
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California is the next state that is most likely to enter the legalized Internet gaming platform in the United States. And PokerStars is hard at work to be included in the future of the online poker market in the state. As a feared competitor in the online poker market, it's understandable that the world's biggest online poker site has met with opposition by some in the online poker conglomerate.

A statement was released by more than a dozen tribes last week speaking out in opposition to “prevent unscrupulous entities” from being able to enter the iPoker market as it develops. The statement went to the State Legislature with support from over a dozen tribes that included the San Manuel and Pechanga.

“Recent news reports indicate that online poker operator, PokerStars, is in partnership negotiations with a California tribe and two or more card clubs to offer online poker in California,” the statement read. “Although we presently have slightly differing views on a legislative framework for Intrastate Internet Poker in California, our tribal governments are united in our steadfast opposition to the easing of regulatory standards that would accommodate bad actors whose past behavior and tainted brands and assets would erode the integrity of Intrastate Internet poker under consideration.”

Find all the details of the Joint Tribal Statement on iPoker Bad Actors at this link.

Two different bills to regulate online poker were introduced into the California legislature in late February — SB 1366 and AB 2291. Gambling Compliance analyzed both bills recently — read them here.

Interestingly, the California tribes are split on the bills and both of the bills contain a “bad actor” clause. The "bad actor" clause was created to prohibit online gaming companies that provided service to the United States after the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006 from entering the market.

PokerStars’ Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser released a statement on Friday. The statement is aimed at those who are “misrepresenting” the company’s past. PokerStars and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians — and three big card clubs hope to offer iPoker in the state.

Read Hollreiser's full statement according to Online Poker Report:

"PokerStars shares the belief that a future licensing framework for online poker in California should be based upon the highest standards of suitability that maximize consumer protection and consumer choice. We have consistently met those standards in jurisdictions around the world, where we hold 11 licenses – more than any other company, including licenses in leading European jurisdictions such as Italy, France and Spain.

"PokerStars has not, will not and need not request any changes to the California gaming regulations. Most regulatory frameworks around the world leave the assessment of suitability to qualified expert regulators. The same position has been taken by the legislators in New Jersey. The California Gambling Control Commission has a 15-year history of successful consumer protection and is more than qualified to continue to determine suitability.

"The only parties seeking to change this are certain groups who want to use the Legislature to gain a competitive market advantage and to limit competition. Their efforts are not in the best interest of consumer choice or consumer protection.

"These groups are misrepresenting the Unlawful Internet Enforcement Gambling Act (UIGEA) and PokerStars’ past U.S. operations serving only to exclude PokerStars from the market in order to avoid what should be fair competition. The fact is that UIGEA did not make illegal any gaming that was not already illegal before its passage. This has been confirmed by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and by the U.S. Department of Justice. PokerStars operated under legal opinion that its offering of online poker did not violate U.S. law before 2006 and maintained that opinion following the passage of UIGEA.

"PokerStars looks forward to demonstrating our suitability to the regulator just like any other company seeking to operate in California and investing in a fair and well-regulated market."

Check back with PokerWorks for updates on PokerStars and California gaming news.

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