A new PokerStars coalition has initiated a radio ad campaign in California, one that urges residents of the Golden State to embrace online poker regulation.
The newly formed Californians for Responsible iPoker advocacy group, the PR face of PokerStars, along with the Morongo and San Manuel tribal operators, and the state’s three largest card clubs, announced this week that the ad spots were part of a “statewide program to engage California citizens, businesses and others in a grassroots campaign to pass an online poker bill in California.”
Besides asking voters to step forward and pledge their names on the coalition website, the group has announced the establishment of the “Let California Play!” PokerStars Pro Tour, a collaboration between PokerStars and state cardrooms that support regulation, which is due to hit the road soon.
“Time to Regulate”
The ads themselves paint a scene of uncertainty surrounding unlicensed online poker sites, using a couple who’s male half is an online poker player.
“There aren’t any sites based in California because the state hasn’t put any regulations in place,” explains hubby patiently to his better half, as he prepares to log on for a game. “This one’s probably fine.”
“Probably?” responds his wife, trepadatiously.
“Because California does not have regulations in place for online poker, consumers are at risk of fraud,” a voiceover cuts in. “And California is losing out on millions in revenues. Thankfully, California legislators have a plan to regulate it. This plan will protect consumers, enact strict safeguards to protect kids from gambling, and ensure only licensed, responsible companies operate here.”
The ad signs off by asking Californians to contact their legislators to tell them “it’s time to regulate iPoker.”
The spot, not surprisingly, makes no mention of the alarmist radio ad launched earlier this month by the Viejas Band of Kumayaay Indians, which accused PokerStars of being a “corrupt company” that was seeking to “access to every computer, tablet and smartphone in the state.”
The Viejas represent an opposing coalition of tribal operators fighting tooth and nail to keep PokerStars out of a post-regulation online iGaming landscape. The schism between the two opposing factions of stakeholders is a key reason that the push for regulation in California appears to have stalled.
Legislative Hearing Today
A legislative hearing will nevertheless be held on Wednesday on the subject, entitled “The Legality of Internet Poker: How Prepared Is California to Regulate It?”
Of course, until a consensus is formed among stakeholders, the answer remains “not very.” In the meantime, though, a grassroots campaign to win the hearts and minds of Californians seems like a good place to start.
“As a global home of innovation, technology and consumer rights, it’s time California updated its old laws and regulated online poker to protect consumers, and bring new revenue to California,” said Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for Amaya Inc. and PokerStars.
“We intend to push online poker over the finish line,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairwoman Lynne Valbuena in an official statement. “Authorizing online poker by creating a strictly regulated marketplace in California is the right thing to do for consumers, and it’s the right thing to do for the state.”
Ultimately, it will be up to the Golden State’s estimated 38.8 million residents to weigh in.