California iGaming Week in Review: US iGaming Forum and PPA Fights Back

Written By Steve Ruddock on April 14, 2014
online poker in california pokerstars

It’s been a fairly quiet week on the California iGaming front, but don’t let this fool you into thinking the debate is fizzling, or that the two bills that have been introduced in the state assembly and state senate are doomed to irrelevancy and will rot away like all of the state’s previous attempts to legalize online poker.

In fact, the iGaming conversation is California has never been more robust; nor has it ever been more complicated, as some of the remarks made by California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) Chairman Richard Schuetz at the Online Gaming USA forum in Atlantic City indicate.

So what did Schuetz say? Keep reading to find out the latest information on the California iGaming front.

Tweets from the US iGaming Forum

In less than two weeks the California legislature will host an online poker forum, which is sure to be informative, exciting, and controversial, but we may have gotten a little bit of a preview of what might be covered and discussed at the April 23rd hearing, thanks to the Online Gaming USA forum that just wrapped up in Atlantic City.

The Borgata Casino in Atlantic City played host to the Online Gaming USA forum on April 10th and 11th, and there was plenty of California representation — and plenty of California talk — as Richard Schuetz from the California Gambling Control Commission was in attendance.

The forum covered a number of different aspects of the iGaming world and the US landscape including:

  • What the market leaders have learned since online gaming first went live 6 months ago
  • What a successful baseline online gaming business model looks like
  • The regulatory, legal and commercial pitfalls that operators need to avoid as they enter the online space
  • How partnerships between gaming operators and suppliers are being used to overcome barriers to entry for online gaming
  • Consolidating your land-based, online, social and mobile ventures to offer a streamlined and fully integrated experience to your player base
  • How traditional land-based casino operators are making the transition into the online world
  • What suppliers interested in entering the market need to know

Luckily, iGaming Player was on hand at the forum tweeting all the action (you may remember iGaming Player’s Twitter account broke the news regarding PokerStars tentative partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three California cardrooms) and there were a couple of interesting nuggets regarding California that came to light in their tweets, as Schuetz was paraphrased as saying:

The tribes in California are more united than ever due to their suddenly aligned interests in keeping PokerStars out of the market.

The tone of the discussion in California has changed and “things are happening.”

Schuetz also warned the forum to bed wary of a federal bill, saying that it could wipe out the industry, and he also poo-pooed the ideal of California signing an interstate compact unless there was some economic reason for doing so.

All of these topics will likely be expanded upon during the California hearing on the 23rd.

PPA issues a call to action

Despite making little progress (has there been any mention of the proposed bans introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz since they were first announced?) Sheldon Adelson is still battling tooth and nail against online poker, which means supporters of online gambling expansion need to keep fighting as well.

While we are certainly the winning the war, it’s certainly not won yet.

And this is precisely what the Poker Players Alliance is doing, keeping the opposition on their heels and making sure they remain on the defensive, trying to defend their double-standards and inconsistent positions.

This past week the PPA issued a “Call to Action,” asking its 1,000,000+ supporters to fight back against Adelson’s bans, and hopefully win the battle once and for all — though this is doubtful when you’re fighting the 9th richest man in the world.

Here is the message from the PPA:

Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2014) – ­The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), the leading poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today launched a national call to action campaign to encourage Americans to fight back against the recently introduced legislation to ban online poker.

The poker community has been eager to raise concerns over the direct assault recent legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (S. 2159) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (H.R. 4301) and guided by the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, will have on their personal freedoms. While many of PPA’s members have voiced their frustrations, this call to action will elevate the campaign and broaden the message for all Members of Congress.

“We have learned time and time again throughout history that prohibition is not the solution for protecting consumers and actually does more harm than good,” said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. “We cannot stand by and allow for misguided legislation to reverse the incredible advancements we have made in consumer and player protections and the ability of the individual states to determine whether to regulate online poker.

“The National Conference of State Legislatures and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries also recently expressed their opposition to these efforts on the grounds that they would undermine states’ authority. I encourage all Americans who oppose a ban on our online freedoms to join us in reaching out to your Member of Congress and letting them know you do not support these bills,” continued Pappas.

A key component of the campaign is a newly launched webpage offering easy to use resources for PPA members and all Americans to raise their concerns around the attempted prohibition of online poker.

Through the webpage players are provided:

  • Tools to reach out to their Member of Congress via an email, call or direct meeting
  • Tools to raise the issue directly to Members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees and anti-poker policymakers  via Twitter
  • Talking points and recommendations for raising the issue at a public event

Leveraging the upcoming two week Congressional recess, the PPA is urging Americans to engage directly with their elected officials in their own home offices. Daily updates and information will also be provided via PPA’s Facebook and Twitter channels.

California iGaming Barometer

Not much has changed over the course of the past week. California is still the frontrunner when it comes to online gambling expansion, but this is along the lines of being the valedictorian of summer school as most peopled see the chances of California passing an online poker bill this year no better than 25%, and that’s the high-water mark.

More answers will likely emerge at the upcoming hearing mentioned above, which is when we should start to have a good understanding of where people stand, and how unbending they are when it comes to their current positions, especially in regards to the bad actor clauses.

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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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