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When PokerStars launched its promotional website for the legalization of California internet poker last month, few doubted that the result would be an aggressive push by Amaya Group’s flagship online enterprise to produce “grassroots” support for the cause.

Over the weekend, several Team PokerStars Pros made the trip to local casinos in San Diego for live poker action, autograph sessions and licensed CA online poker discussion with their favorite pros from the world’s largest internet poker site.

In a blog post written by PokerStars Director of Poker Communications Lee Jones, fans statewide can be seen competing alongside the likes of Twitch live streaming star Jason Somerville and taking selfies with the likes of poker’s all-time tournament winner Daniel Negreanu. The events are part of an ongoing effort to market PokerStars’ re-entry in California with fans and lawmakers

California Seen as Golden Opportunity for U.S. Online Poker

Although licensed U.S. internet poker revenues have been underwhelming in the states of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware for the past two years, much rides on poker’s online venue’s potential legalization in California.

Many online poker advocates in the United States hope to recreate a perception of Manifest Destiny along with a renewed Gold Rush to California by going all-in on California legalized iPoker. Indeed, the “Gold Rush” has already begun, yet it remains unclear whether PokerStars will obtain a presence in the country’s most populous state.

Current proposed legislation by California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer — AB 167 — is expected to be formally discussed by state legislators in late August. The proposed bill, at this time, would include racetracks along with alleged Bad Actors such as PokerStars, which continued its U.S. facing operations following late 2006.

However, online gaming legislation has been known to be altered at the eleventh-hour, and precisely who ultimately receives a share of the California online poker pie — if and when it becomes legal — is hotly debated. The state’s estimated population of 38.8 million makes it roughly three times larger than the combined total of the three U.S. states that currently offer licensed internet Poker.

PokerStars hopes to capitalize on its nostalgic California fan base and brand reputation to prompt statewide decision-makers to pass legislation that allows the site to once again offer its services in CA. That presence is heavily opposed by the Pechanga Group, a coalition of Indian tribes that wants to prohibit PokerStars from anticipated California internet poker.

To find out more about PokerStars’ promotion of online poker in California, visit the Californians for Responsible iPoker website.

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David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.