PokerStars Gets Serious About Lobbying For Online Poker In California

Written By Dustin Gouker on July 6, 2015 - Last Updated on February 11, 2021

The PokerStars-chartered Californians for Responsible iPoker officially launched a campaign aimed at influencing gaming policy in the state, with a run of radio and web advertisements funded by the coalition beginning last month and a “pro tour” starting in July.

A bill to regulate online gaming has made unprecedented progress through the state legislature this year, signaling a growing warmth toward the subject among lawmakers.

In May, the Los Angeles Times voiced its support for online poker legislation in an editorial. “Lawmakers shouldn’t confuse failing to set up a legitimate market for online poker with striking a blow against online gambling,” it read.

C4RiP faces opposition from a coalition of California tribes, some of which have attacked PokerStars in recent campaigns of their own.

PokerStars announces California pro tour

In conjunction with the launch of C4RiP’s campaign, PokerStars announced what it calls a “Let California Play!” pro tour in the state.

Earlier this year, PokerStars staged an event in Sacramento featuring Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville. The event consisted of equal parts software demonstration, strategy workshop, and appeal for regulation.

The PokerStars Pro Tour will once again feature Negreanu and Somerville, as well as Chris Moneymaker, Liv Boeree and Vanessa Selbst. The pros from PokerStars will take part in special tournaments and games at cardrooms around the state, trying to raise awareness for the push to regulate online poker.

Here are the dates and locations:

  • Friday July 17: Palomar Card Club, San Diego
  • Saturday July 18: Lake Elsinore Casino, Lake Elsinore
  • Sunday, July 19: Seven Mile Casino, Chula Vista
  • Saturday, July 25: Napa Valley Casino, American Canyon
  • Sunday, Aug 2: Stones Gambling Hall, Citrus Heights
  • Thursday, Aug 6: The Aviator Casino, Delano
  • Friday, Aug 7: Diamond Jim’s Casino, Rosamond
  • Sunday, Aug 9: Turlock Poker Room, Turlock

“Poker players can play an important role in shaping the debate around iPoker in California so we’re looking to spark conversations in poker rooms up and down the state,” Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for Amaya and PokerStars, said in a press release about the tour.

C4RiP’s main arguments for regulation

The PokerStars-led group offers several rationales for why iPoker should come to California:

  • Offers additional choice for consumers, will create “vibrant, competitive, fully inclusive marketplace”
  • Ensures operator accountability and financial safety for players
  • Tax revenue could sustain investments in schools, roads and health care

Who’s supporting C4RiP?

Joining PokerStars and its parent company, Amaya, in the alliance are Riverside’s Morongo Casino, San Bernardino’s San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, and card clubs The Bicycle, Commerce, and Hawaiian Gardens of Los Angeles.

“We want every Californian who believes they should have the freedom to safely play the game they love online to join the movement,” the website says.

Among its guiding principles, C4RiP listed a need for more rigorous vetting of online poker operators. Offshore operators have capitalized on the largely unregulated market, the group says, an arrangement which could put players at risk.

“Because California does not have regulations in place for online poker, consumers are at risk of fraud,” a voiceover actor says in C4RiP’s radio spot.

C4RiP has proposed a regulatory system similar to that of New Jersey and Delaware, where online gaming laws were enacted in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about online poker and the online gambling industry since 2008.

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