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PokerStars Allies with Morongo Tribe and California Card Rooms

PokerStars has joined forces with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three card rooms to provide online poker in California whenever legislation is eventually enacted.

It was no secret that parent company Rational Group had been negotiating an agreement with the tribe and the card clubs, as that information was made public last month. In anticipation of such an alliance, a dozen state tribes got together and issued a “Joint Tribal Statement on iPoker Bad Actors” denouncing the inclusion of PokerStars.

However, that didn’t keep the Morongo tribe and the Bicycle Casino, Commerce Club and Hawaiian Gardens Casino from hitching up their wagons to the industry giant. Under the agreement, PokerStars will provide the online poker platform to an operation that is owned jointly by the card rooms and the Morongo tribe.

Following the signing of the agreement, tribal chairman Robert Martin had a few choice words for those opposed to the partnership:

Efforts by a select few interests to rewrite longstanding and effective policy in order to gain a competitive market advantage or to lock out specific companies is not in the best interests of consumers or the state and will be vigorously opposed by our coalition, online poker players and many others.”

Whether the newly-formed alliance will continue to splinter the state’s tribal organizations and hinder the progress of any proposed online poker legislation remains to be seen, but odds are that it will. The matter of “bad actors” was briefly addressed at yesterday’s online poker hearing before the Governmental Organization Committee of the California State Assembly without citing PokerStars specifically.

The partnership will now concentrate on promoting online poker legislation that protects “the interests of consumers and the state” and does not “artificially create a competitive advantage for a select few.” In support of its goal, the card rooms, Morongo tribe and Rational Group have established some guidelines to follow with regard to any potential Internet poker regulation. Those suggested principles are:

Extend California’s Strict Consumer Protections and High Standards of Accountability to Intrastate Real-Money Online Poker.

Ensure that California and Californians Benefit From State-Authorized Online Poker.

Require Stringent Regulatory Vetting of Operators and Subcontractors Before Authorizing Licenses, Using the Same Proven Statutory Suitability Criteria that Have Served California Well for Nearly Two Decades.

Reject Attempts by Special Interests to Use the Legislature to Restrict Competition and Pick “Winners and Losers.”

In addition to the announcement made by Morongo tribal chairman Martin, representatives from both Rational Group and the card rooms made statements regarding the alliance and upcoming legislative efforts:

:As operators of the world’s largest card clubs, we are excited to join Morongo and PokerStars to provide California players with familiar brands to choose from in a well-regulated online poker experience,” said attorney Keith Sharp. “California has a long history and deep expertise in regulating live poker and we look forward to working with legislators and our industry colleagues to pass a bill that enhances competition and consumer protection.”;


PokerStars has a great history with California poker players, who want us in the market,” said Guy Templer, Group Director of Strategy and Business Development for the Rational Group. “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.”



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.