Online poker: California rooms, Stars align

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I didn’t see this one coming. I was one of the many who thought it would be years before PokerStars would be allowed to do business in the United States. This is because of the standard “Bad Actor” language that has been written into every piece of online poker legislation that has been introduced throughout the country.

In case you have just come out of a three-year cryogenic sleep, I’ll explain the Bad Actor clause in a few words. A Bad Actor in the poker legislative world is identified as any organization that participated in online gaming, primarily online poker, after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which was passed into law in October 2006. PokerStars, which did continue to accept deposits and process payouts to players in the Untied States after that date, would qualify as a bad actor under this definition. Got it? Good. Now, forget all that.

In California, over the past month or so, PokerStars entered into an agreement with seven of the states’ Indian tribes and three largest poker rooms (Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino and Hawaiian Gardens). The agreement calls for PokerStars to be the company to provide the online poker platform if and when the legislation is signed into law.

This is a far cry from what happened in Atlantic City, where just months ago, PokerStars was “virtually” escorted off of the online premises with the Bad Actor label. It had an agreement with a brick-and-mortar casino to enter into the fray on the A.C. strip, only to have it go south because of the political landscape and a group of detractors who were vocal about their discomfort of having PokerStars set up shop in the state. So, to now have California’s largest collation of casinos and cardrooms to date agree to have PokerStars be the online provider of record, let’s just say this was a well-played hand by the online giant. Whether you’re for or against PokerStars’ re-emergence on the poker scene in the states, you have to admit it sure is fun watching it play the game.

— Email Joel Gatlin at editor@anteupmagazine.com.