PokerStars’ Approval in California May be Influenced by New Jersey

PokerStars' Approval in California May be Influenced by New JerseyDecember is upon us and with it comes the anticipated arrival of a new online poker bill to be proposed in California for the 2015 legislative session.

Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer previously stated that he will fine-tune his 2014 proposal, AB 2291, that failed to be voted upon by lawmakers. What the new version looks like will be revealed sometime this month.

Still at issue is whether PokerStars will be allowed into the California ipoker market. The world’s top site has some powerful partners in the state’s three largest cardrooms, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and the newest member of the coalition –the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Whether that partnership will be enough to permit PokerStars to find its way into the Golden State ipoker regime may be dependent upon actions taken by gaming regulators in New Jersey. Those Department of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) officials have surprisingly not yet approved PokerStars, despite stating a willingness to do so following the sale of PokerStars to the Amaya Group over the summer.

Industry observers expected the DGE to have taken action by now on Amaya’s application to operate in New Jersey, with October previously seen as a launch date. That was back in August, and October has come and gone –as has November– and still no decision from the NJ DGE.

Reports surfaced that Sheldon Adelson may have used his influence to delay the approval of PokerStars. The Las Vegas Sands CEO and his Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling have been hard at work for a year attempting to put the kibosh on the progress of regulated online poker and gambling in the U.S.

Whatever the reason for the delay in New Jersey, there are indications that an eventual approval by the DGE would go a long way in facilitating the efforts of PokerStars’ hopeful inclusion in the California ipoker market. At least one powerful tribal gaming representative in California said as much recently when he let it be known that a number of questions would be answered when the DGE issues its decision.

Should PokerStars not get the greenlight in New Jersey, or be penalized in some way for continuing to operate in the U.S. post-UIGEA, that too would likely have a bearing on how California lawmakers set up their Internet poker legislation. While the legislatures of both states operate independently, rumors abound that the powers that be in California will take their cue from the eventual decision of New Jersey gaming regulators.

On a speculative note, that may likely bode well for PokerStars, as it is not believed that an outright refusal of an igaming license is in the offing in NJ. There may be some sort of suspension, fine, or other restrictions placed on PokerStars, but denial is likely not in the cards as state officials are keen to increase igaming revenue and it is believed that the acceptance of PokerStars will provide a needed boost.

California, on the other hand, likely needs no such boost with a population of almost 40 million. But the desire to appease all gaming interests involved may work in PokerStars’ favor, as would their approval in New Jersey.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett