In a surprising turn of events, Caesars Entertainment has changed their stance on the bad actor clause as it pertains to PokerStars. Speculation on this change began late last week after a letter was published on Pechanga.net that outlined the current position of the Rincon tribe.
In that letter, the Rincon tribe recommended an approach that looked at each applicant individually and suggested that companies owning “tainted assets” such as Amaya be evaluated to determine whether those assets would negatively impact California online poker.
After the release of this letter, speculation started swirling that Caesars may have softened their stance on bad actor clauses. That speculation was later confirmed by Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance via Twitter:
Caesars’ Jan Jones Blackhurst told me the company believes Amaya Gaming Group-PokerStars “should be considered for legalization in the U.S.”
— Chris Krafcik (@CKrafcik) February 13, 2015
Rincon Softens on Uncertain on Use Tainted Assets
The new position held by the Rincon, and now Caesars, is a great coup for online poker supporters in California but it is not necessarily a slam-dunk for PokerStars. What this change of heart essentially adds up to is that Caesars is open to Amaya Inc being licensed to operate online poker in California.
However, it is still unclear as to whether they support the actual use of the PokerStars client by the company. The Rincon tribe made it clear that bad actors are eliminated once ownership has changed, but they still believe that the “bad assets” should be evaluated.
The question now remains how one evaluates the assets acquired by Amaya in determining whether to allow PokerStars to operate. Can the physical client be disqualified because of a prior version operated in the United States? One could argue that the newest client was perfected through operating under the UIGEA.
One would almost automatically assume that any client databases would be disqualified since they were obtained under the UIGEA. This means that PokerStars would not be allowed to directly contact former players if they setup shop in California. This argument would likely have the most merit because it would be the easiest to prove.
Of course, PokerStars could go the route of creating a new US specific client that is unique from their main client. This would seem a bit redundant but would possibly quell some of the concerns surrounding bad assets.
Pechanga and Aqua Caliente Only Hardcore Supporters Left
Now that Rincon, and subsequently Caesars, has shifted support away from a hardcore bad actor clause, this leaves only the Pechanga and Aqua Caliente as the major tribes supporting a bad actor clause. While they are holding steadfast in their opposition against PokerStars, one has to wonder how long their resolve can hold.
Now could be the time that the Pechanga considers some type of compromise surrounding this issue. While they have claimed that they prefer not passing a law over allowing PokerStars into the state, this stance was taken when a solid number of tribes shared their vision.
Now that support is shifting away, Pechanga should consider coming up with a stance that gives them their pound of flesh but gets the legal process moving. Creation of a custom client plus some type of penalty could be one solution. This penalty could be anything from a “fine” to delayed entry into California.
Regardless, recent developments give some analysts hope on a law actually progressing in 2015. Progress has been slow but there now appears to be some hope that California residents will be able to play online poker in the near future. The ball is firmly in Pechanga’s court and it is their play.