Caesars and PokerStars haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on the issues. After all, when it comes to online poker, the two are competitors: PokerStars is the world’s largest online poker brand, while Caesars controls the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the biggest name in the game and a growing force on the Internet as well.
But when it comes to online poker in the United States, the two companies now seem to agree that they’d rather be in the game together than sit out altogether.
Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced on Monday that it no longer viewed PokerStars as the enemy when it came to online poker in the USA, a major change in stance for a company that had previously worked to keep the Internet giant from returning to American shores.
“We need to focus on where our opposition really lies, and clearly it’s not Amaya and PokerStars,” said Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president of government relations for Caesars. “They are a strong ally in the space.”
The comments were made during an interview withÂ Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance.
As with many recent developments involving PokerStars, the fact that the online poker giant is now owned by Amaya Gaming may well be a major factor in this story.
“Amaya and Caesars have enjoyed a very good relationship and business partnership for a number of years,” Amaya Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser told PokerNews. “That has not changed since acquiring PokerStars. As part of our ongoing conversations we will work closely with Caesars to promote the US online gaming industry and support responsible legislation at the state and federal levels.”
That level of partnership will see the two companies battling against a number of opponents throughout the United States.
At the state level, there are several states considering online poker legislation, but none of them seem to be able to generate the kind of legislative or industry consensus needed to seriously give a bill a chance. A powerful alliance like this one could aid efforts in major states like California and New York.
At the federal level, the current situation may mean that Amaya and Caesars will be playing defense rather than offense.
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, is in favor of an outright online gambling ban, something he hopes to accomplish through the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill that has once again been introduced in Congress this year.
While a federal regulatory framework for online poker would be great, efforts will likely center on stopping RAWA from picking up momentum for now.
The Caesars/PokerStars partnership announcement comes directly on the heels of news that Caesars would no longer support a “bad actor” clause for online poker legislation in California. Such a rule, which would keep out companies that continued US online poker operations after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) went into effect, has been a major dividing point in California.
The main target of such a rule would be PokerStars, which has worked with allies in the state in an attempt to stop such a regulation from being included in any bill that passes.
Of course, Caesars and Amaya will still be competing with each other in any state that authorizes online poker, but Hollreiser says that’s for the best.
“It’s clear that a successful and competitive online poker market drives innovation and growth in the overall poker industry, which benefits everyone,” he said.