In breaking news, PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, has entered a formal agreement with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three of the largest card clubs in California to supply online poker software and infrastructure when and if the industry is regulated in the state.
The Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens joined Morongo in partnering with PokerStars when and if the time comes. The latter will “serve as the subcontractor providing the online poker platform and related servicesfor a real money online poker website to be licensed, owned, and operated by an entity owned by the Tribe and the card clubs,” according to a press release obtained by PocketFives. Neither online poker nor internet gambling has been regulated in California.
Morongo Chairman Robert Martin commented in the same press release, “We’re pleased to announce our agreement with these established and proven organizations that represent millions of California poker players. We’re confident that, together, we can offer a safe, secure, high-quality online poker experience that brings financial benefits to California while providing the highest level of accountability, choice, service, and protection for consumers.”
Director of Strategy and Business Development for the Rational Group Guy Templercommented in the same press release, “PokerStars has a great history with California poker players, who want us in the market. We are the worldwide leader in regulated online poker and hold more national licenses than any other operator. We look forward to bringing our best practices in responsible gaming, online security, e-commerce, protection of players’ funds, and game integrity to the California market.”
Whether PokerStars will actually be permitted to offer its gaming platform to California residents remains to be seen. A statement by the California Tribal Business Alliance in March bluntly stated, “We will strongly oppose any legislation which allows PokerStars to participate” due to its real money presence in the United States after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006.
Earlier today, a hearing about online poker was held in California featuring more than 30 witnesses. The state has nearly 40 million residents, making it about 60% as large as the entire country of France and about two-thirds as large as Italy.
PokerStars unsuccessfully tried to enter the New Jersey intrastate internet gambling market by purchasing the now defunct Atlantic Club, but the deal fell throughand the casino shuttered its doors in January. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement suspended its review of PokerStars’ online gambling license last December for two years pending “significantly changed circumstances” regarding the site’s leadership.
Stay tuned to PocketFives for the latest in this still developing story.