PokerStars coalition criticises California online poker bill

By David Cook
A coalition containing internet operator PokerStars has reacted negatively to the online poker bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto on Monday.

The bill, titled AB 9, would legalise intrastate online poker in California and could become law in early 2015.

A coalition made up of PokerStars, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and card clubs the Commerce, Hawaiian Gardens and Bicycle Casino has released a statement in opposition to the bill.

The proposal’s bad actor clauses, which would mean that licenses could not be granted to “entities and persons who knowingly engaged in unlawful internet gaming after December 31, 2006”, could prohibit PokerStars from entering the market, something which the coalition sees as providing others with a competitive advantage.

Its statement said: “As a coalition, we are committed to working with legislators & 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 thing that separates the AB 9 bill from previous bills is that players would be required to open accounts in person at licensed card clubs, tribal casinos or satellite offices, while first deposits must also be made at these locations.

Language within the bill also indicates that it could, if permitted, be amended to allow interstate or even international poker

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