PokerStars Announces Historic Partnership with The Morongo Band and California Cardrooms

Posted on April 24th, 2014 by Robert DellaFave

PokerStars Morongo Partnership AnnouncedShould intrastate online poker become a reality in California, PokerStars is set to act as a subcontractor for the Morongo Band and California’s three largest cardrooms.

Last month, the rumor that PokerStars was working with The Morongo Band of Mission Indians towards ensuring a no “bad actor” in California prompted a heated debate among the state’s gambling interests.

That rumor has now been confirmed.

In a joint press release issued by The Morongo, California’s three largest cardroomsthe Commerce Club, the Bicycle Club and the Hawaiian Gardens Casino – and PokerStars’ parent company the Rational Group, the conglomerate outlined its plan to bring online poker to the state of California once it goes live.

The release was delivered in tandem with a speech delivered by Morongo Chairman Robert Marin at yesterday’s assembly meeting. The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the fiscal viability and regulatory guidelines of a potential regulated poker market in the Golden State.

The details of the Morongo/PokerStars arrangement

According to the release, PokerStars would provide the online poker platform and related services for a real-money online poker website to be licensed, owned and operated by an entity owned by the Tribe and the card clubs. A representative of Rational also confirmed that the entity would brandish the PokerStars name – by and large the most identifiable name in all of online poker.

The release goes on to emphasize the high standards of compliance and customer protection PokerStars would bring to the table. It also specifies that the agreement is a long-term arrangement and goes onto liss several guiding principles the group would abide by.

One of these principles suggests that operators and subcontractors deemed unfit for licensure would be prohibited from entering the market. Ironically, Californian factions opposed to PokerStars’ re-entry into the regulated market cite the company’s involvement in the U.S. post-UIGEA as grounds for immediate rejection from consideration.

Group representatives confident in PokerStars ability to succeed in California market

The Rational Group’s Group Director of Strategy and Business Development Guy Templar pointed out the strong prior relationship PokerStars had with Californian natives, emphasizing the company’s stranglehold over the market and the varied benefits of reintroducing its highly-vaulted brand of poker into the Golden State.

Templar’s statement that players want PokerStars back in the market is admittedly undeniable.

Keith Sharp, an attorney speaking on behalf of the three cardrooms involved in the deal shared Templar’s optimism, also stating that PokerStars would share in the responsibility of vetting prospective subcontractors and gaming operators.

At the hearing, both Sharp and Martin spoke vehemently against bad actor clauses, as did several other representatives of the Morongo and the three cardrooms.

The possible implications of granting PokerStars a California iPoker license

If PokerStars were to set up shop in California, it’s brand would undoubtedly become the dominant force in the market. So much so that other gaming operators may shy away from applying for a license. It would also set the stage for the online-poker behemoth to forge successful partnerships with other states considering iGaming legislation – something it has proven unable to do in New Jersey thus far.

Given California’s high population (38 million) and exceedingly active poker scene, it would come as little surprise if PokerStars achieved a level of success in California similar to the one it currently boasts in ring-fenced European nations such as Italy and Spain.

In other words, PokerStars could find itself among the five most heavily traversed poker sites in the entire poker.

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