n other words, their respective lobbying dollars will be used for the same purposes.
“[W]e need to focus on where our opposition really lies, and clearly it’s not Amaya and PokerStars. They are a strong ally in the space,” Jan Jones Blackhurst, the Executive Vice President of Governmental Relations for Caesars, told Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance.
Caesars and Amaya Gaming Group, which bought PokerStars last year for $4.9 billion, actually have done business together before, so this new alliance on online poker probably would not have happened if PokerStars wasn’t acquired by the Canadian company. In this light, the alliance between the two firms on the online gaming issue is not surprising.
Caesars is a casino operator while Amaya is a supplier of gaming technology and services.
However, when you consider that in early 2013 the American Gaming Association, which Caesars is a key member of, came out and blasted PokerStars for its previous business decisions (staying in the U.S. after the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act), then the news of Caesars and PokerStars being on friendly terms now is pretty significant. The AGAonce said PokerStars should not be involved with the U.S. web gaming industry at all “because the integrity of the gaming industry would be gravely compromised by any regulatory approval of PokerStars, a business built on deceit, chicanery, and systematic flouting of U.S. law.”
In 2012, PokerStars settled with the U.S. government without admitting to any wrongdoing. The sale to Amaya has been seen as finally putting its past to rest, though some states are still flirting with so-called “bad-actor” provisions that could box out PokerStars.
The comments from Caesars’ Blackhurst are almost surely referring to efforts by Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson and his team of federal lawmakers who are pushing a nationwide ban on Internet gaming. A measure currently is on the table on Capitol Hill.
Once considered an extreme long shot for becoming law, the alliance of Caesars, owner of the World Series of Poker and its affiliated web poker sites, and PokerStars, by far the world’s largest web poker platform in terms of traffic, suggests that Adelson’s efforts actually have some hope.
Adelson has said that he would spend “whatever it takes” to thwart U.S. web gaming.
Assuming Adelson’s efforts on the federal level don’t ever come to fruition, the Caesars-PokerStars understanding might bode well for online poker efforts in individual U.S. states. Both companies would love online poker in California and have existing gaming interests or partnerships there. Other states considering I-poker include Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Washington.
It’s too early to tell exactly what kind of impact the Caesars-PokerStars alliance will have on online poker becoming more available to Americans, but it’s surely a step in the right direction. No additional states legalized online poker last year, and this year will probably be a zero as well.