Let California Play
There are two kinds of people reading this blog post, and I suspect you know immediately which one you are in. Group 1 can play on PokerStars for real money; in fact, you might be reading this in one window while happily playing a $5 Spin & Go in another. Group 2, you can play on PokerStars, but not for real money. It's fun and enjoyable, but many of you miss the real money action terribly. How do I know? Well, we have statistics and information and stuff. You're following events such as the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) blow by blow and you tune into the European Poker Tour (EPT) webcasts in droves. You're subscribing to Jason Somerville, Randy Lew, and Jaime Staples on Twitch, and you even schlepped over to the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas last week to say hi to PokerStars people, and ask us:
"When are you coming back to the States?"
We told you then, "We're working on it," and here's one of those ways...
It seems extremely unlikely that online poker will be regulated at the federal level in the U.S. any time soon. And so far, only three relatively smaller states (Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey) have regulated it. But California is actively considering regulating online poker. If it does so, it could very well be the first domino in a long chain of states to regulate1.
One key component to getting regulation done is grassroots support among Californian poker players. I mean, we're pretty sure most of them support it, but we need them to raise their collective voices to support it. The political calculus is relatively straightforward: politicians pay attention to the things they think their constituents care about. If the constituents don't make noise about topic X, well, the representative has plenty of other things on his or her plate to worry about.
Our Your job is to tell them that you care about regulated online poker in California.
But we're going to help. On Friday, July 17th, we're starting a tour of California card clubs to drum up that grassroots support. And we're bringing some of our Team Pros to create big excitement and buzz. People such as Chris Moneymaker, Jason Somerville, Liv Boeree. And a cat named Daniel Negreanu, who's had some pretty good tournament success of late. I'll be there to take the pictures and hand out PokerStars swag.
We're starting at the Palomar Card Club in San Diego on Friday the 17th, we'll be at Lake Elsinore Casino on Saturday the 18th, and then in Chula Vista on Sunday the 19th. Those luminaries I listed above - they'll be playing in the tournaments, taking selfies with you, and even listening to a bad-beat story or two. Well, maybe not that last bit. But they'll also want to talk to you about what you can do to help bring online poker back to the Golden State.
So what is it that you can do? I told you before - you tell the California representatives and assemblymen and assemblywomen that you want online poker (they call it "iPoker") and PokerStars back in California. If anybody asks you why regulation is important, or you need an elevator speech, here are the important bullet points:
• Licensed, accountable, and solvent operators such as PokerStars. If you had money on, e.g. Lock Poker, I don't need to tell you how important that is.
• Consumer protection for players. A regulated market means cheating violates state laws. This is a very big hammer in the tool-belt of the sites' security people.
• Safeguards to keep underage and problem gamblers off the site. A regulated site has huge incentive to do a good job keeping the wrong people off of its tables - an unregulated one isn't likely to care very much.
• Tax revenue for the state. I know that you know that California could use the tax revenue for things such as schools, social services, and infrastructure improvement.
So please, come visit us at one of our stops (or more if your schedule permits) - you can see all the information about the tour at @ipoker4ca and you can sign up to get information about how you can help bring regulated online poker to California.
Frankly, this is pretty straightforward. PokerStars wants to be back in California, and we believe that you want us back. Between you, the poker players of California, and us, we can get a short simple message to the elected representatives of California:
Let California Play.
1California has a long history of leading the rest of the U.S. in areas such as the environment, business regulation, and social standards.
Lee Jones is the Director of Poker Communications at PokerStars and has been part of the professional poker world for over 25 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones.