Last week, Caesars Entertainment made a monumental shift in opinion regarding the inclusion of PokerStars in the legalized online poker market. After years of opposition to bad actors and specifically PokerStars, the company announced that they were now supporting the Amaya-purchased PokerStars and their bid to reenter the United States.
On Monday, it was announced that PokerStars and Caesars are now joining forces in an effort to move online poker legislation forward in the United States. This partnership is viewed by many online poker analysts as a direct result of Sheldon Adelson’s attacks on the United States iGaming market.
The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend
Executive Vice President of Governmental Relations Jan Jones Blackhurst revealed on Monday the reason behind the partnership. Speaking to Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance, she stated, “[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.”
PokerStars also released a statement on the matter saying that Amaya and Caesars have enjoyed a solid working relationship in the past. The company says that they will work closely with Caesars to move forward online poker legislation at the state and national levels.
This new partnership should also put the industry on notice that the threat of RAWA is more serious than ever. Sheldon Adelson has made it clear he will spare no expense in trying to ban online gambling nationwide and some believe that RAWA has serious potential for passage this time around.
RAWA’s potential has motivated Caesars to reverse their position and join PokerStars in legalization rather than squabble over who may be more profitable. If RAWA is successful, it would kill the legalized online poker market and the “bad actor” debate would become moot, as nobody would be able to offer online poker services.
Will This Partnership Hasten PokerStars’ Entry into the United States?
With Caesars firmly backing Amaya and PokerStars, one has to wonder whether this will hasten their reentry into the U.S. marketplace. More specifically, will the partnership between the two persuade New Jersey to approve their application?
At present, there is speculation that Governor Chris Christie is the main reason behind PokerStars being denied reentry. Several anonymous sources have stated he is blocking the bill and state Senator Ray Lesniak has outright accused Christie of blocking the company.
Now that the states largest live and online casino operator is in partnership with Amaya, this could apply the added pressure needed to bring the company into the United States. However, the path may not be so clear in other states.
Amaya and Caesars interest will also align in several other states but the opposition to PokerStars remains strong. No place more so than California where the Pechanga coalition have dug in their heels regarding the issue. Some view this partnership as perhaps causing more of a delay rather than speeding up the process as the Pechanga do not appear interested in budging on their stance.
Things in Pennsylvania are not a slam-dunk either due to Sheldon Adelson running one of the states most profitable properties, the Sands Bethlehem. While it is entirely possible the state could more forward with a bill despite Adelson’s objections, don’t expect any bills to be passed in 2015.
In the short term, this partnership may not result in much change for PokerStars and the speed they are able to reenter the country. However, taking a long-term look at this partnership, it is one that will benefit the game as turns more focus against Sheldon Adelson and his attempt to ban iGaming. As the partnership matures, expect lobbying efforts to help PokerStars operate in more locations than they could alone.