PokerStars has released a statement explaining its position on a potential “bad actor” clause in proposed Californian legislation.
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PokerStars has released a statement explaining its position on a potential “bad actor” clause in proposed Californian legislation.

In response to media suggestions that it is working to ensure that no bad actor clause is inserted into online poker law in California, Rational Group Head of Corporate Communications, Eric Hollreiser, told that “PokerStars has not, will not and need not request any changes to the California gaming regulations.”

“The California Gambling Control Commission has a 15-year history of successful consumer protection and is more than qualified to continue to determine suitability,” he continued.

A week ago, Leslie Lohse, the Treasurer of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians and Chairperson of the California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA), issued a statement saying that they “will strongly oppose any legislation which allows PokerStars to participate.”

The statement made reference to “PokerStars” continuing to operate in the US after UIGEA became law in 2006 and stated that “only entities that adhere to the highest regulatory standards, such as those used in the regulation of Indian gaming, should be licensed to provide online play.”

Soon after, a coalition of 12 California tribes united to express their opposition to the removal of a bad actor clause stating any “easing of regulatory standards” that would accommodate bad actors [...] would erode the integrity of Intrastate Internet poker.”

PokerStars’ statement refutes that argument stating that “groups such as the CTBA “are misrepresenting the Unlawful Internet Enforcement Gambling Act (UIGEA) and PokerStars’ past U.S. operations.”

Hollreiser continued to explain that “UIGEA did not make illegal any gaming that was not already illegal before its passage. This has been confirmed by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Hollreiser also pointed to the fact that PokerStars holds licenses in 11 jurisdictions around the world, more than any other operator and highlighted that it is normal to “leave the assessment of suitability to qualified expert regulators” rather than to legislate against specific operators “to gain a competitive market advantage and to limit competition.”

The New Jersey regulator is particularly singled out. “The same position has been taken by the legislators in New Jersey,” said Hollreiser, referencing the fact that PokerStars’ initial application was “suspended” in part due to an “unresolved federal indictment” against PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg.

The point he makes is clear, even without a bad actor clause, regulators can take into account the necessary factors to make an expert decision.

The statement ends optimistically, saying that “PokerStars looks forward to demonstrating [its] suitability to the regulator just like any other company seeking to operate in California and investing in a fair and well-regulated market.”