Caesars and PokerStars Join Forces to Oppose Adelson

February 16, 2015
Caesars and PokerStars Join Forces to Oppose Adelson

PokerStars and Caesars Entertainment will set aside their differences and become allies in the fight to legalize online gambling in the United States, according to a report in GamblingCompliance this morning.

Spokespeople for both PokerStars and Caesars have confirmed the two gaming powerhouses will work together to offset the lobbying efforts of Sheldon Adelson and defeat his proposed legislation that would ban online gambling in the United States.

The alliance between PokerStars and Caesars (who have long been at odds with one another) is a clear indication that they are taking Sheldon Adelson’s lobbying efforts seriously.  And well they should.

Adelson’s efforts

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has already reintroduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) bill into the House of Representatives, and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has indicated he will reintroduce the bill into the Senate in the near future.

RAWA is almost universally believed to have been written by Adelson lobbyists and introduced at his behest.

Graham also spent a significant portion of his allotted time during a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing grilling Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on the 1961 Wire Act and the 2011 opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel that RAWA seeks to undo.

Statements indicate Adelson brought them together

Jan Jones Blackhurst, the Executive Vice President of Governmental Relations for Caesars, told Gambling Compliance that the industry needs to focus on their real opposition, adding, “and clearly it’s not Amaya and PokerStars. They are a strong ally in the space.” A clear indication that fears of an online gambling ban are genuine.

Amaya Gaming’s Head of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser issued a statement on the new alliance, echoing Jones Blackhurst’s comments, “[Amaya] intends to work closely with Caesars and others to promote the U.S. online gaming industry and support responsible regulation at the state and federal levels.”

Impact in California

Caesars isn’t the only entity that has softened its stance against PokerStars.

Caesars’ tribal partner in California, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, was one of three tribes (along with the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community) that wrote to the sponsors of California’s online poker bills, Assemblymen Mike Gatto and Reginald Jones-Sawyer, to, among other things, express their new views on PokerStars and Bad Actor clauses.

The letter was for lack of a better term, a resignation from the tribal coalition headed by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians that formed last summer. Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro called the letter an “ambush” at the Western Indian Gaming Conference that took place on Thursday.

Hollreiser also addressed the now changed landscape in California:

 “We are encouraged by the recent comments from Caesars, California tribes including Pala, Rincon and United Auburn and several dozen card rooms who believe that working together is the best way to promote the industry, protect individual freedom and counter the misleading, negative campaign of self-interested, anti-competitive groups.”

Even with the tribal coalition fractured (the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians left the tribal coalition and joined the PokerStars coalition last November), as Dave Palermo reported, many people feel that as long as Pechanga and Agua Caliente oppose PokerStars, an online poker bill will not be able to pass through the legislature.

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