Caesars And PokerStars Set Aside Online Poker Beef

Caesars And PokerStars To Undertake Joint Online Poker Lobbying Effort

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The landscape of U.S. regulated online poker underwent a seismic shift last week with the news that Caesars was dropping their opposition to PokerStars’ participation in the market.

As Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance reported this morning (p/w) the two companies are now “allied in pursuit” of legalization and regulation of online gambling in the United States.

Jan Jones Blackhurst, EVP of Governmental Relations at Caesars, told Krafick that “[w]e need to focus on where our opposition really lies, and clearly it’s not Amaya and PokerStars. They are a strong ally in the space.”

What impact will the partnership have?

Generally speaking, a lack of tension over the so-called “bad actor” issue between PokerStars and Caesars will have a incredibly positive effect on the chances for regulated online poker.

The shared resources of the two companies are significant, and having both pushing the same message to lawmakers and other stakeholders will toughen the task for opponents of regulation, who have to this point been able to exploit fragmentation among supporters.

Some quick thoughts on the impact in specific states follow.


Having Amaya and Caesars on the same side certainly won’t hurt in California, but it doesn’t necessarily do much to solve the core issues impeding regulation at this point.

New Jersey

Caesars seemed to long ago abandon their hope of keeping PokerStars out of New Jersey (at least publicly), so the direct impact here should be relatively minimal.

But the newly-confirmed cooperation between Caesars and PokerStars could increase pressure on whatever – or whoever – is holding up PokerStars’ entry into the Garden State.


This is probably the state most directly impacted by Caesars’ reversal on PokerStars. The bill floated in Pennsylvania last year did contain a “bad actor” clause.

Jones Blackhurst indicated to GamblingCompliance that her company would no longer support such clauses.

And supporters of regulation in Pennsylvania would benefit mightily from cooperation between PokerStars and Caesars, as supporters in the state face a powerful opponent in Sheldon Adelson, whose Las Vegas Sands operates one of Pennsylvania’s most profitable casinos in the Sands Bethlehem.

New York

The most recent bill floated in New York also contains a bad actor clause. The sponsor – Assemblyman Gary Pretlow -said recently that he doesn’t expect anything beyond hearings for the bill in 2015.

Caesars / PokerStars alliance driven by Adelson’s advocacy

As I suggested back in November 2013 when Adelson fired the opening salvo in his battle against online gambling, the casino magnate’s involvement is gradually forcing the coalescence of disparate iGaming supporters with unique and sometimes-conflicting agendas.

Emphasis on gradually.

Two recent charts via Krafcik on Twitter highlight just how aggressive – and substantial – Adelson’s push has been at the federal level:

Statement on the recent shift from Amaya / PokerStars

Amaya Corporate Spokesperson Eric Hollreiser sent the following statement to OPR:

We look forward to collaborating with all those who want to see a US online gaming market that protects consumers, generates tax revenue and creates a responsible, vibrant and competitive marketplace.

We are encouraged by the recent comments from Caesars, California tribes including Pala, Rincon and United Auburn and several dozen card rooms who believe that working together is the best way to promote the industry, protect individual freedom and counter the misleading, negative campaign of self-interested, anti-competitive groups.

We intend to work closely with Caesars and others to promote the U.S. online gaming industry and support responsible regulation at the state and federal levels.

- 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.
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