On June 21, SciPlay (the joint venture between Scientific Games and Playtech) was selected by the California Online Poker Association (COPA) for its online poker platform with eyes on potential intrastate regulation. In an announcement to the London Stock Exchange, Playtech called the move a “return to American operations,” its first since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006.
Nearly four months later, COPA has today launched its beta play-money poker site. CalShark.com features ring games and tournaments that can be played through a downloadable client or a flash platform on the website. While real-money play is not available, chips can be exchanged for virtual goods.
COPA, which includes the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, is made up of 29 tribal governments, and 30 casinos and cards rooms. The lobbying group, which represents approximately 60% of the state’s two million player market, estimates that Californians wager $13 billion a year on unlicensed sites.
California is the largest and most active state for online poker in the United States; as a result, the COPA license was one of the most lucrative and sought after deals in the market, with Playtech outbidding bwin.party and others to win the contract. Mor Weizer said the licence will become one of Playtech’s top five revenue generators when online poker becomes regulated in California.
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