One member of the consortium that had stuck with PokerStars thick and thin in a struggle to legalize online poker in California has ended its relationship with the group.
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians said it has dropped out of the group that also included Commerce Casino, Hawaiian Gardens, the Bicycle Casino and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. It didn’t make an official announcement, but the move was mentioned in an article that appeared last month in OnlinePokerReport.com.
Whether San Manuel’s move means that more defections will be forthcoming is unknown. It is also unknown whether San Manuel will now move into the column of the tribes that oppose PokerStars as a “bad actor,” and have refused to allow a bill to move forward.
San Manuel said its promotion of PokerStars had proven too costly and that it needed to focus its efforts elsewhere.
Just a week before, several key players in these negotiations had said that no bill would be forthcoming in 2017 because of the impasse. Now there is a glimmer of hope for some movement.
However, PokerStars remains a formidable presence in the iPoker debate. It controls 70 percent of the world online poker market. The fact that it allowed Americans to play on its offshore sites at a time when the U.S. Justice Department held that online gaming violated federal law makes it a “bad actor” in the eyes of many. The main reason for the opposition, however, is that because of its flouting of U.S. law it built a large database of American customers that the tribes wouldn’t have access to. And PokerStars is currently operating in New Jersey after it was bought out by Amaya and licensed there.
Complicating matters is that Amaya, which purchased PokerStars last year and was working to shine its tarnished image, now has its own dirt to deal with in the form of an insider trader case being prosecuted against Amaya’s former CEO.