PokerStars Lobbying for a Place in California

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Former U.S. Rep Gephardt said to be on Team PokerStars. Company may have already found Cali iGaming partner.

The PokerStars lobbyist force, headed by former U.S. House Majority Leader (and one-time presidential candidate) Dick Gephardt, has been spotted “hovering” around the California State Capitol in Sacramento, according to a new report in GamblingCompliance (subscription required).

It gets better. According to the same report in GC, PokerStars may have already found a casino ally in the state: Hawaiian Gardens. This is what Gephardt is telling state senators, claims a senatorial aide.

Barrier to California entry potentially high for PokerStars

Just about every iGaming bill introduced or discussed in California thus far has been extremely unfriendly to so-called “bad actors” – entities deemed to have participated in taking bets online by Americans prior to the arrival of U.S. regulation.

For example, the “Pechanga bill” currently in circulation, believed to be the state’s likeliest shot for online poker given the bill’s strong tribal support, clearly defines as “unsuitable for any license under this bill” companies that “accepted bets post-UIGEA.”

The ubiquitously triumphant PokerStars may face its toughest challenge yet in California. Tribes are expected to be extremely protective of their command of the gaming market, both live and online, and for all of Gephardt’s clout, he was reportedly “rebuffed” by the California Gaming Control Board.

Conversations with Senator Rod Wright, sponsor of his own bill on online gaming (SB 51), have not gone the online poker giant’s way either. Wright’s office is reportedly of the opinion that California lawmakers have nothing to gain, and much to lose, by suddenly allowing offshore sites to have a piece of the nation’s most lucrative online poker market.

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