California iGaming Week in Review: Important Hearing This Wednesday Could Seal PokerStars’ Fate

Written By Steve Ruddock on April 21, 2014
pokerstars in california online poker bills hearing

This is the week the iGaming industry has been waiting for.

California’s Governmental Organizations Committee will host their online poker hearing this Wednesday, and this very well could be the make or break moment for online poker in the Golden State this year, and could also signal the fate of PokerStars in the US market.

In this installment of the California iGaming Week in Review we’ll bring you all the details of the upcoming hearing, including offering up a few key topics to focus on, as well as taking a look at who is on the GO Committee that will be tasked with handling this important hearing.

We’ll also bring you an interesting comment from the CEO of as it pertains to California, and let you know if there has been any movement on the “Will California pass an online poker bill in 2014” betting line.

California Online Poker Hearing Wednesday

California’s online poker hearing will be taking place this Wednesday but there are still scant details available as to what will be covered and who will be invited to speak at the hearing. Right now we are all going into this hearing with a lot of questions and hopefully some of them will be answered.

The hearing is being called: Public Policy and Fiscal Implications of Authorizing Intrastate Internet Poker in California, and will kick-off at 1 PM on Wednesday in Room 4202. The hearing is being held by the Governmental Organizations Committee (more on them below).

It’s quite likely that members of the California Gambling Control Commission (perhaps Richard Shuetz or Richard Lopes) will be called on to offer up their thoughts, and former Nevada NGCB Chief turned iGaming consultant Mark Lipparrelli is another potential speaker considering his experience with the Nevada online poker industry. Lipparelli is currently working with the iGaming player verification company CAMS.

Two key things to keep an eye on during Wednesday’s hearing are:

How often and in what context PokerStars is mentioned

I’m really not sure if I should be expecting a PokerStars bash-fest, or a spirited debate both ways, or even barely any reference to the online poker company that seems to be the California equivalent of a lightening rod.

What I do know is that if it’s a spirited debate I don’t like California’s chances to pass an online gambling bill this year, what we want is as little vitriol as possible.

How rigid the different interests are in the ground they have currently staked out

Following up on that point, I have the feeling that the more rigid people’s stances are during the hearing the less likely it is for a bill to be passed this year. What I’m hoping for is a lot of “that’s an interesting point” type comments.

A look at the Governmental Organizations Committee

The GO Committee is quite large, numbering 19 members, and is comprised of 13 democrats and 6 republicans. One of the key individuals on the committee is Reginald Jones-Sawyer Sr., who introduced one of the online poker bills currently in the California legislature, AB 2291.

Here is a look at the full committee:

  • Isadore Hall, III (Chair)
  • Brian Nestande (Vice Chair)
  • Katcho Achadjian
  • Frank Bigelow
  • Nora Campos
  • Wesley Chesbro
  • Ken Cooley
  • Matthew Dababneh
  • Adam C. Gray
  • Roger Hernández
  • Brian W. Jones
  • Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr.
  • Marc Levine
  • Jose Medina
  • Henry T. Perea
  • V. Manuel Pérez
  • Rudy Salas, Jr.
  • Marie Waldron
  • Scott Wilk

Teufelberger and watching California CEO Norbert Teufelberger made it quite clear that the company was watching the developments in the US very closely, telling investors:

“We remain optimistic about new market opportunities in the United States with online poker bills currently being reviewed in California and New York. On the back of our early success in New Jersey, together with our partners, we are determined to secure leading positions in all eligible states that represent a significant business opportunity.”

After their successful rollout in New Jersey, partypoker must be salivating for legalized online poker to come to California, a state with four-times the population of New Jersey.

California iGaming Barometer

Wednesday’s hearing will be the next check-point for California online poker, and coming out of the hearing we should start to see the rhetoric ramp-up as the tribal interests, card-rooms, overseas online poker providers, and legislators stake out their positions.

So, once again there is little movement on the California iGaming barometer but there certainly will be next week.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

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