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San Manuel Joins PokerStars, Morongo & California Cardrooms

PokerStars’ desire to enter California’s online poker market –if and when a regulated market becomes a reality– picked up a bit of momentum today when it was announced that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians joined the coalition previously formed by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the state’s three largest cardrooms, and Amaya Gaming.

San Manuel was not always in PokerStars’ corner, having earlier this year announced their support for legislation unfavorable to PokerStars. But the Morongo tribe likely sent friendly smoke signals to the tribe near Highland, California that operates San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino, inviting their native brethren to change course.

Some may recall that San Manuel and Morongo were partners previously in the California Online Poker Association (COPA) that had grand visions of transitioning its play-money online poker room known as into real-money action. COPA dissolved two years ago (it seems much longer) when it was clear that approval of online poker legislation in the Golden State would not be effectualized anytime soon.

COPA was comprised of 31 tribes and 29 cardrooms. San Manuel was first to leave the association, followed shortly by Morongo. The two tribes are believed to be the COPA members who fronted most of the cash for, and ended up absorbing the loss.

The tribes are now reunited, together with the Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Commerce Club, and PokerStars.

“We are pleased to join this coalition,” said Lynn Valbuena, San Manuel chairwoman. “We are convinced that the various interests must work together if we are to be successful in establishing a well-regulated environment and the best-in-class Internet poker industry for California.”

While San Manuel may be convinced that teaming with PokerStars is the way to go, other tribes may not share the same idea. A new online poker bill is rumored to be in the offing for introduction next month, in time for the 2015 legislative session. Stay tuned.



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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.