The California Online Poker Association announced this week the launch of CalShark, a new free-to-play, “social” online poker room.
The move marks COPA's first steps in to online poker in California after the announcement in June that it had signed an agreement with Playtech and Scientific Games to provide intrastate online poker.
COPA, a coalition of Californian brick-and-mortar casinos and tribes, backed Lou Correa’s SB40, one of two California intrastate online poker bills, but legislative efforts failed prior to the end of the 2011 legislative year.
Rather than prep for real-money online poker for Californians, the new CalShark poker room takes a different tack and enters in to the growing space of “social” online poker. Open to all, CalShark offers play-money games with social media integration available across multiple platforms.
As with the industry leader Zynga Poker and latest rival ChiliPlay, CalShark hopes to encourage players to purchase more play chips for real money. Another common strategy is to allow players to sign up for “special offers” with affiliated businesses in exchange for more chips. The site all uses common “gamification” techniques to encourage players to invite friends and play more.
The software is developed by UK-based Playtech, best known for its iPoker network of real-money poker rooms.