Pokerstars Releases Statement In Response To Web Poker Bill AB 9

PokerStars logoPokerStars and its partners in California have issued a statement in response to AB 9, the online poker bill recently introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto which includes bad actor language that could block the online poker behemoth in the state.

“As a coalition, we are committed to working with legislators and our other partners in the gaming community to pass Internet poker legislation in 2015 that establishes a vibrant, competitive marketplace, provides superior consumer protections, and ensures that the state receives a reasonable return,” it said.

The quick response from the Amaya Gaming owned company comes as no surprise. The bill is little more than a rehash of previous legislation and includes language seemingly written specifically to block out PokerStars.

The revisions

AB 9 states that any company that “has purchased or acquired the covered assets of any entity described in paragraph (8) or (9) and will use any of those assets in connection with Internet poker in the state” will not be eligible to be licensed.

The legislation does, however, give PokerStars an opening, stating that an operator could be approved if “the applicant’s use of the covered assets in connection with intrastate Internet gaming will not adversely affect the integrity of, or undermine public confidence in, interstate poker […]. Of course these definitions are extremely subjective and could never be relied upon by Stars.

In its statement, the Gibraltar-based company calls for unity among all of the state’s gambling concerns. “We are convinced that the various interests must work together if we are to be successful in establishing a well regulated environment in the best in class poker industry for California,” it continued.

Would PokerStars benefit all sites?

While many tribes have fought tooth and nail to exclude the company from the Golden State online poker industry, Stars believes that by opening up shop in California, all poker sites will benefit. Due to PokerStars’ mammoth marketing budget and brand recognition, it would surely increase the entire Internet poker pool, with players spilling over to smaller tribal sites as well.

But Gatto’s new bill seems to be simply an effort to block competition for tribes who worry that PokerStars will grab the lion share of the state’s poker players. “Unfortunately, AB 9 is a rehash of previously unsuccessful proposals,” read the statement. “Any bill that seeks to establish artificial competitive advantages for some, while denying Californians the best online poker experiences, will only serve to divide the community and will be opposed by our coalition.”