PokerStars has seen its hopes of someday operating in California improve over the last few months, but there is still a long way to go before legislators regulate online poker in the state.
And even if they do, there still is no guarantee that the market would include PokerStars, which could be barred by a bad actor clause.
That’s why PokerStars and its parent company, Amaya, are working hard to build support for Internet poker in the state.
Their latest effort is the launch of a group known as Californians for Responsible iPoker, which plans to support efforts to legalize and regulate online poker in California.
PokerStars had already built a strong coalition in the state, and those partners are predictably a part of the new group as well.
That includes the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and three of California’s largest card rooms: the Bicycle Casino, the Commerce Casino, and the Hawaiian Gardens Casino.
Californians for Responsible iPoker has already set up a website outlining their positions.
“Today, millions of California poker players cannot play the game we love online, even other states and dozens of countries have authorized iPoker,” the website reads. “Authorizing a well-regulated iPoker market in California will protect the state’s poker-playing consumers, support local business, and generate both jobs and revenue in California.”
One of the most prominent parts of the website features ten reasons why the coalition supports bringing regulated iPoker to California.
Many of the reasons are common arguments in favor of regulation, while others seem crafted to respond to talking points typically used by opponents.
For instance, several of the ten reasons talk about the safety that comes to regulation, including the ability to protect children.
“We want children kept safe and that can be achieved with responsible regulation,” the site reads. “Well-regulated markets have proved that using detailed biographical information screens prevents youth access. No such protocols or protections exist in unregulated markets.”
Similarly, the page details how geolocation technology can be used to ensure that players are located within California’s borders, and how regulation protects players in ways that offshore sites do not.
There’s also talk of how online poker can benefit the state through both revenue and jobs.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars can be added to state coffers which could be earmarked for key state programs, such as schools and public safety,” the coalition writes. “A regulated iPoker market could create thousands of jobs for Californians in technology, security and customer services.”
Californians for Responsible iPoker also says that regulated online poker could provide “a halo effect” for existing card rooms and casinos. This contrasts with the message typically heard from Sheldon Adelson and other opponents of the industry, who say that Internet poker is a job killer that would harm land-based gaming operations.
The site also speaks about the PokerStars Pro Tour, a series of events scheduled for this summer in which individuals interested in online poker can meet PokerStars-sponsored pros like Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Somerville.
The players are expected to appear in card rooms across California.
At the moment, there are no scheduled events on this tour, though the site promises that details are coming soon.
However, PokerStars has already used their star power to promote poker in the state: in May, Negreanu and Somerville traveled to California to speak to state lawmakers and give them more information about Internet poker.