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PokerStars And California Partners Respond to New Online Poker Bill

Groundhog Day
This article may be outdated. Get the latest news on California here.

A coalition of gaming interests – including PokerStars, Morongo, San Manuel and California card rooms the Bike, Commerce and Hawaiian Gardens – released a statement today regarding the recent introduction of AB 9 by Assemblyman Mike Gatto.

Below find the text of the statement, in full:

As a coalition, we are committed to working with legislators and our other partners in the gaming community to pass Internet poker legislation in 2015 that establishes a vibrant, competitive marketplace, provides superior consumer protections, and ensures that the state receives a reasonable return.

We are convinced that the various interests must work together if we are to be successful in establishing a well-regulated environment and the best-in-class Internet poker industry for California.

Unfortunately, AB 9 is a rehash of previously unsuccessful proposals. Any bill that seeks to establish artificial competitive advantages for some, while denying Californians the best online poker experiences, will only serve to divide the community and will be opposed by our coalition.”

One on hand, that reaction would seem to dampen hopes that new language in AB 9 opened a door for PokerStars under new owners Amaya.

But I’d still contend that AB 9 does leave a door open for PokerStars – assuming the online poker giant can get past whatever’s holding up their approval in New Jersey.

My focus falls on 19990.406, which details how companies who purchase “covered assets” are to be denied licensure – unless the applicant can demonstrate by “clear and convincing evidence” that:

(c)(7)(C)(i) The applicant’s use of the covered assets in connection with intrastate Internet gaming will not adversely affect the integrity of, or undermine public confidence in, intrastate Internet poker or otherwise pose a threat to the public interest or to the effective regulation and control of intrastate Internet poker.

Approval in New Jersey would appear to me (as a layperson) to meet the standard of “clear and convincing” – especially when presented in concert with PokerStars’ multiple licenses in other jurisdictions.

In other words, if:

  1. PokerStars has not adversely affected the integrity of or public confidence in those jurisdictions (I’m not aware of any evidence that suggests they have), and;
  2. The DGE similarly concludes that PokerStars’ brand and software are suitable for use in New Jersey’s regulated market,

… then 19990.406 (c)(7)(C)(i) seems to provide a fairly clean entrance point for PokerStars – assuming, of course, that California regulators are interested in giving Amaya the green light.

It’s obviously a subjective matter. And AB 9 is likely far from a finished product.

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Chris Grove
- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.