Earlier this month, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians started a statewide smear campaign against PokerStars and bad actors, calling them scam artists among other things. PokerStars and their coalition have decided to fight back and have launched a new site to try to help push iPoker legislation forward in the Golden State.
The new site title Californians for Responsible iPoker has officially launched and is a joint venture between PokerStars, the Morongo and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Commerce Casino, the Bicycle Casino and Hawaiian Gardens Casino.
Site Stresses Consumer Protection and Regulatory Oversight
Under the section entitled “What We Stand For,” the coalition outlines their Principles for Establishing Online Poker in California. Those principles include the following:
• Making the marketplace inclusive
• Extending California strict consumer protection to online poker
• Ensuring that the state and citizens benefit from online poker
• Using the same process to determine suitability for online poker providers as has been used for B&M casinos
• Regulators should be the ones determining suitability
“10 Reasons We Want iPoker in California.”
This list is being presented as a positive spin on online poker, making PokerStars and similar providers look like champions for jobs and safe gaming.
Among the ten reasons, the ones that will likely garner the most attention are:
• Wanting to keep children safe – they point to protocols used in legalized markets to prevent underage gambling
• Hundreds of millions of dollars for the state – while estimates vary, California is projected to make in the $400 million range in a mature market.
• Job creation – online poker can create jobs in a variety of areas and that’s not considering ancillary jobs created after the fact
• Good for state card rooms and casinos – online poker in regulated markets leads to greater awareness of the products and more patrons in B&M establishments.
Website Announces PokerStars Pro Tour
The website also announced the “PokerStars Pro Tour” that promises to bring members of Team PokerStars to card rooms throughout California. Some of the names listed on the site include Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker and Daniel Negreanu.
You may remember that Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville were part of the technology demonstration held on May 21 in Sacramento. In addition to discussing online poker, the pair also played in free money games to demonstrate the PokerStars client.
No upcoming events are listed but card rooms can contact the coalition to bring PokerStars to their area.
Likely Too Late to Make a Difference in 2015 – But Could Influence 2016
Recent reports point to online poker legislation possibly being shelved in 2015. Even if it AB 431 isn’t shelved, the divide between stakeholders appears too wide to breach in 2015. As such, this new initiative by the PokerStars Coalition will likely have little impact on the chances of passing a bill this year.
However, this is a smart long-term move for the company as it begins a positive propaganda tour for the company. It is likely that some card rooms will take advantage of having PokerStars come to their casino and this will lead to greater dialogue.
While the launching of this site doesn’t make online poker passage a sure thing in 2016, it improves the chances by double digits or more. The next few months will be interesting as the propaganda blitz from both sides continues.