Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California’s Largest Card Clubs and PokerStars Announce Agreement to Offer Online Poker in California When Legislation is Passed
Legislation should fully protect the interests of consumers and the State, but should not be abused to artificially create a competitive advantage for a select few
Sacramento, CA, April 23, 2014
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California’s (and the world’s) three largest card clubs – the Commerce Club, the Hawaiian Gardens Casino and the Bicycle Casino – and The Rational Group, which owns and operates PokerStars, announced today that once California enacts legislation authorizing intrastate online poker, PokerStars will 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.
This will give Californians access to the world’s largest and most popular online poker brand in a safe and locally-regulated environment. The organizations will work together to advocate for legislation that extends California’s tough, long-established gaming regulations to include intrastate online poker and thus ensure stringent consumer protection, consumer choice and maximum revenue for the state.
“We’re pleased to announce our agreement with these established and proven organizations that represent millions of California poker players,” Morongo Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman Robert Martin said. “We’re confident that, together, we can offer a safe, secure, high-quality online poker experience that brings financial benefits to California while providing the highest level of accountability, choice, service and protection for consumers.”
The agreement formally ties the organizations together in a long-term arrangement to promote legislation that authorizes and regulates intrastate real-money online poker in California and thereafter to all necessary licenses and other approvals to offer online poker under the new State-regulated system.
In announcing the agreement, the coalition established a set of guiding principles that it considers essential elements of any legislation to authorize intrastate online poker:
Ø Extend California’s Strict Consumer Protections and High Standards of Accountability to Intrastate Real-Money Online Poker.
Ø Ensure that California and Californians Benefit From State-Authorized Online Poker.
Ø Require Stringent Regulatory Vetting of Operators and Subcontractors Before Authorizing Licenses, Using the Same Proven Statutory Suitability Criteria that Have Served California Well for Nearly Two Decades.
Ø Reject Attempts by Special Interests to Use the Legislature to Restrict Competition and Pick “Winners and Losers.”
“Efforts by a select few interests to rewrite longstanding and effective policy in order to gain a competitive market advantage or to lock out specific companies is not in the best interests of consumers or the state and will be vigorously opposed by our coalition, online poker players and many others,” Chairman Martin added.
Speaking on behalf of the three card clubs, attorney Keith Sharp said, “As operators of the world’s largest card clubs, we are excited to join Morongo and PokerStars to provide California players with familiar brands to choose from in a well-regulated online poker experience. California has a long history and deep expertise in regulating live poker and we look forward to working with legislators and our industry colleagues to pass a bill that enhances competition and consumer protection, while providing the state Gambling Control Commission and state Department of Justice with the regulatory tools, staff and other resources needed to apply their expertise in vetting and assessing the suitability of prospective operators and subcontractors, and providing strict ongoing regulatory oversight.”