PokerStars Pros have been on a mission over the last few weeks to raise awareness among poker players in California. The campaign, called Californians for Responsible iPoker, involved major stars of the felt like Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Somerville, visiting land-based card rooms throughout the state. The tour may be over, but its promoters believe the effects will linger indefinitely.

Lee Jones of PokerStars talks California iPokerThe PokerStars Pro Tour finished up with a final stop at Turlock Poker Room & Casino, where Negreanu and Selbst were joined by the online poker giant’s Head of Poker Communications, Lee Jones. His commitment to the cause has been unrelenting as Jones rode the tour bus along each of the 11 stops, taking a “do whatever needs to be done” stance.

According to Jones, as well as PokerNews, who was in attendance for the last four legs of the tour, the response from the community has been overwhelming. As the PokerStars branded RV rolled up at each stop, poker fans were lined up out the doors to meet the pros, get autographs and discuss their desire to see online poker regulated in California.

When asked what Jones believed was the biggest takeaway from the tour, he had a difficult time pinning down just one. Overall, though, Jones said, “the biggest takeaway is a renewed love of the game and its community.”

He said that so often, the limelight is focused on high-stakes games, big tournaments and grinders, but that there’s an immense population of players necessarily who don’t fall into any of those categories. “These people just love poker,” said Jones.

Everyone who turned out for the final leg in Turlock, CA seemed to agree on one point. Online poker is something they want and deserve to have the right to play. Jones was exceptionally pleased to see how devoted these fans were to the regulation of internet poker, many asking Negreanu and Selbst how they could help to achieve that goal.

“These people love poker not because they think they’re going to win or lose a million dollars, but just because they’re having a great time playing the game. They love going down to the poker club, seeing their friends, drinking a beer, and seeing what the cards bring,” said Jones.

“In many ways, seeing Daniel and Vanessa and being on the road with them, seeing the people swarm around them, again, they were all just totally unabashed fanboys and it just felt really good to see that,” Jones continued. “The smiles, the energy, the happiness of everybody — that’s the big takeaway I have. Plus, they all wanted to help. We forget sometimes that poker is supposed to be fun, and it’s just been fun at every single one of the 11 stops.”

Jones looked on as the mass of poker-loving attendees were all signing up for Californians for Responsible iPoker. He only hopes that their dedication to the cause will carry on well beyond the tour’s end. He said, “we all hope that they will follow through when we send them an email that asks, ‘Hey, will you fire an email off to your assemblyman?’”

Jones said he knows that PokerStars will continue to push heavily for regulated iPoker in California, although he was unable to share any specific details at the time. Continued propagation is “absolutely crucial,” said Jones. “If you start something and you don’t keep up the momentum, then it just dies.”

The odds of regulating internet poker in California just got worse as Assemblyman Mike Gatto has essentially given up on his CA online poker bill, AB 9. Mike said in a statement that, due to having found “no consensus” on the issue, he’s removing his measure from the committee hearing scheduled for next week.

Assemblyman Gatto was the first of several politicians in the Golden State to introduce a CA online poker bill in the 2015-16 legislative session. AB 9 hit the table in December of 2014 as one of the first measures presented in the state.

Key Features of Gatto’s CA Online Poker Bill AB 9

Gatto’s proposal provided a framework for authorizing, regulating and licensing online poker operations in California. When AB 9 was first introduced, the Assemblyman noted that his CA online poker bill would give both players and operators “certainty and security that will legitimize the game, support locally-owned businesses, and keep much-needed revenue in the state.” Mike Gatto gives up on CA Online Poker Bill AB 9

AB 9 had several distinct parameters set in place to limit the state’s internet poker market to restricted operators. Only licensed tribal casinos and commercial card rooms would be permitted to participate (i.e. no horse racing tracks), and a ‘bad actors’ clause stated that any operator who accepted California players after December 31, 2006 (post-UIGEA) would be prohibited from obtaining a license.

While the horse racing industry and Amaya Gaming (owner of PokerStars & Full Tilt were opposed to AB 9, there were many tribal gaming operators and card rooms who supported Gatto’s CA online poker bill. The most significant among them was the Pechanga Coalition, a 7-tribe strong group of California tribes who are staunchly opposed to competing with PokerStars or the horse racing industry if and when internet poker is authorized.

Gatto says “No Consensus” means ‘No Go’ for AB 9

In a press release issued on his website yesterday, Mike Gatto explained why he’s giving up on his CA online poker bill.

“I am canceling next week’s hearing of my Assembly Bill 9.  I believe this is the right thing to do at this point because there is no consensus on the issue yet,” wrote Assemblyman Gatto.

He did point out, however, that “My bill has an “urgency” clause, and thus it can be resuscitated at any time.”

He went on to speak of the hard work he’s put into internet poker legislation since 2012.

“Over the past three years, I have met with representatives from nearly every software provider, card room, gaming tribe, racetrack, and internet-poker operator who has an opinion on the subject.  I gave my word to both supporters and opponents of AB 9 that my goal was consensus, and that I would not move forward with anything that achieved less than that,” Gatto said.

Although AB 9 is all-but dead at this point, the Assemblyman promised to continue his efforts towards establishing a framework for the authorization of online poker in California. “I will continue working to craft legislation on which the interested parties can agree, and which is good for the people and treasury of the state of California.”

After seven long years of online gambling debates, California’s web poker bill AB 431 has more potential than any related measure the state has ever seen. According to the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), it could progress even further today with a vote by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

California Assembly to Vote on Web Poker Bill AB 431Web poker bill AB 431 was introduced in February 2015 by Assemblyman Adam Gray, and made history two months later when it became the first online poker related proposal to ever go to a vote. The Assembly Governmental Organizations Committee voted in favor of AB 431 by a margin of 20-0 on April 27.

From there, it was passed on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, who held their first reading of the web poker bill yesterday. The Committee will meet again today, where the PPA is hopeful for another affirmative vote.

Yesterday evening, just hours after the Appropriations Committee adjourned, the PPA tweeted (@ppapoker):

“CA Internet #poker legislation very much alive. Approps could move bill out of Committee tmrw. Next step would be full Assembly vote. #AB431”

That message gave California’s online poker fans great hope for the future of online poker, but there are still several obstacles the legislation must overcome before it hits the Governor’s desk.

As Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance pointed out earlier in the day (@CKrafcik), sources had confirmed to him that “#CA #iPoker bill AB431 will clear Approps. Comm. Thurs. but will be held on Assembly floor until after June/July iPoker hearings.”

Progression of California Web Poker Bill AB 431

Having passed by a 20-0 vote in the Assembly GO Committee last month, AB 431 now needs the approval of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If that group votes in favor of the web poker bill today, as industry analysts predict, there’s still a long road ahead for California online poker.

The next step would be for the entire Assembly to review and vote on the measure. However, as Krafcik previously stated, it will be at least two months before that happens.

There are two more web poker hearings scheduled in the California Assembly. The first is a Joint Senate/Assembly hearing on “The Legality of Internet Poker-How Prepared is California to Regulate It?”, slated for Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Next up is a GO Committee hearing in which the Assembly will debate two other web poke bills; Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s AB 9, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167.

The review of those web poker measures could prove highly successful in filling in some of the blanks in AB 431, which is still considered a “shell bill” at this point. Committee members will likely pick apart the positive and negative aspects of each, inserting the legislative guidelines they are most comfortable with, such as licensing fees, tax rates, bad actor/tainted assets clauses, eligibility for horse race tracks, etc.

If all goes well up to that point, the California Senate would get ahold of the web poker bill. And if approved on a senatorial level, AB 431 would finally land atop the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown for final legislative approval. Finally, the measure would be presented to the public for a vote, and if approved, online poker would finally become legal in the state of California.

California iPoker Awareness with PokerStars Pros Daniel Neagreanu and Jason SomervilleThe great state of California has spent so many years debating online poker regulation without any real progress that I’ve found myself groaning each time another news story on the issue hits the presses. But this year, unlike all others, a bill has actually moved beyond the first phase of reading, and Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Jason Somerville are doing their part to ensure it continues to see progress.

PokerStars has lobbied hard for passage of an internet poker bill in the Golden State—preferably one that allows the world’s largest poker operator to participate—and who better to represent the campaign than two of the most popular and prolific poker pros of our time? Negreanu and Somerville have agreed to host an iPoker Awareness conference in Sacramento, California on Thursday, May 21, 2015.

The terrific twosome will kick off the event in the Compagno Room of the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. Negreanu and Somerville will be on hand from 10am to 12 o’clock noon. All in attendance will be able to talk with the poker pros about online poker and the political side of the debate, as well as play a little online poker with them (for free-play, of course) if interested.

PokerStars chooses Crème of the Crop to Represent

PokerStars couldn’t have possibly picked a better team to represent their interests at tomorrow’s iPoker Awareness session. Anyone with any interest in live or online poker knows of Daniel Negreanu, and Jason Somerville became a more high-profile player right around the time that Nevada launched the first US-regulated online poker site in April of 2013.

Daniel Negreanu: Known for his outspoken attitude when it comes to the game of poker, Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu has 6 WSOP bracelets and 2 WPT titles. He’s considered the most affable player in the poker world, and also happens to be at the very top of the All Time Money List with $29,973,908 in live tournament cashes.

The Canadian born poker pro posted his intentions to appear at the California iPoker Awareness seminar via his Twitter feed on Tuesday. “Will be in Sacramento Thursday to talk politics and online poker on behalf of @PokerStars. Feels like the right time to get CA on board!”

Jason Somerville: While this American poker pro may not be as decorated as his fellow iPoker Awareness speaker, having just one WSOP bracelet to his name thus far (with great emphasis on the term ‘thus far’), his popularity among the online poker masses is unquestionable.

Somerville has been actively producing poker videos on YouTube since 2011, and in 2014, started up a live-streaming poker series on Twitch known as Run It Up. After his former sponsor, Ultimate Poker, shut down in Nevada last year, Somerville signed on as a member of the Team PokerStars Pros, and is now in the third season of this immensely popular Run It Up broadcasts.

Jason Somerville also mentioned his upcoming appearance at the iPoker Awareness hearing on his Twitter feed, saying he’s “excited to be heading to Sacramento tmw with @RealKidPoker to talk online poker regulation on behalf of @PokerStars!”

Perfect Timing for CA iPoker Awareness Session

PokerStars couldn’t have timed out the iPoker Awareness conference any better. It takes place just one day after today’s scheduled Joint Hearing among the Assembly GO Committee in which legislators will discuss an “Overview of Gambling in California-Legality, Authorization and Regulation”.

You can listen to the hearing live today at 1:30 PST.

The subject of Assemblyman Adam Gray’s California online poker bill, AB 431, will be high on the agenda at the hearing. After its initial reading, the measure was referred to Committee, officially making it the first such bill in California to make it to the first stage of voting. The bill received unanimous votes in favor of referral on April 27, 2015.

California iPoker regulation has been an annual issue for the last seven years, but constant in-fighting between tribes, commercial card rooms and legislators has kept all relative bills from ever going to a vote with each legislative session. This year, the largest issue has become whether horse race tracks should be allowed to participate, and while tribes say they have enough clout to band together and prevent race tracks from participating, Union reps for the tracks say otherwise.

Union Lobbyist Barry Broad says California iPoker won't pass without Horse Race TracksBarry Broad is a long-time advocate for Labor Unions in California. He is a lawyer and Managing Partner at Broad & Gusman LLP, a steadfast union lobbyist, and also happens to be a top-selling author of crime mysteries like Eve of Destruction (2008) and Requiem for the Damned (2012).

More importantly, Broad is a representative of the Teamsters and Service Employee International Union (SEIU) workers within the state’s horse racing industry.

According to Broad, there’s simply no way a California iPoker bill can gain enough traction without allowing horse race tracks to participate in a regulated online poker market. “It would be very hard to move a bill out with a two-thirds vote that doesn’t include the tracks,” said Broad.

“They’re not going to get a two-thirds vote,” Broad stated flatly. “They’re not. These are some very big unions.”

3 Groups seeking Variable California iPoker Regulation

At the moment, there are three major groups who want to see a California iPoker bill passed, and they all have different interests at heart. The Pechanga Coalition wants horse race tracks excluded, the PokerStars Coalition doesn’t care whether race tracks participates, so long as Amaya isn’t omitted under a ‘bad actors’ or ‘tainted assets’ clause, and the horse racing industry, of course, wants a slice of the pie.

Pechanga Coalition

The Pechanga Coalition is currently made up of 6 confirmed tribes that strongly oppose permitting race tracks to participate. They are standing on a long-time policy of limited gaming in the Golden State that has historically restricted the racing industry from dipping its toes into land-based casino / poker gambling.

The tribes were staunchly opposed to allowing PokerStars to operate in a California iPoker market, but may be willing to loosen up on that issue in an effort to get the PokerStars Coalition on their side versus horse race tracks.

Horse Racing Industry / Union

The horse racing industry believes it has every right to partake in a California iPoker market, and whether that’s true or not, the industry’s 50,000+ employees-strong Union will fight tooth and nail to make sure they get it. And if they don’t get it, they’ll fight to make sure no one else does either.

Broad thinks that because the race industry operates all throughout the states, with Union reps located in just about every district, having such dominant political clout could draw the PokerStars Coalition over to their side.

PokerStars Coalition

Made up of Amaya Gaming (parent of PokerStars), the Morongo Band and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and California’s three largest commercial card room, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino and Hawaiian Gardens, the PokerStars Coalition has one goal in mind. They have all teamed up to launch internet poker in the state, if an when it becomes legal to do so.

Members of this coalition want bad actors and tainted assets clauses to be removed from California iPoker legislation, or at least slackened enough that Amaya Gaming / PokerStars will be permitted to receive a license. However, they could become the middle man—the swing vote, if you will—in this debate, and will likely have to choose to side with either the Pechanga Coalition of horse racing industry.

Broad Says PokerStars and other Tribes will Choose Race Tracks

Believing Union opposition is simply too strong to get California iPoker passed without horse tracks, Broad says the most likely outcome will be a new alliance between the PokerStars Coalition and tracks, with three more tribes joining the ranks; the Auburn Indian Community and the Rincon and Pala Bands of Luiseno Indians.

Broad compared the Pechanga Coalition to a “paper tiger”, saying they don’t have nearly as much sway as they are making themselves out to have. He said the casinos run by the Pechanga, Agua Caliente, Viejas, and other allied tribes are “medium-sized businesses”, and are collectively “only a few tribes that are opposed to tracks.”

If PokerStars joins Pechanga, Broad believes the race tracks’ Union has enough clout to deny a two-thirds vote. On the other hand, if PokerStars and tracks team up, garnering the additional support of those other tribes, California iPoker regulation might have a chance at a two-thirds vote, with or without the support of Pechanga.

As long as California lawmakers have been debating the issue of online poker regulation, there have been those who opposed the entry of any operator who ignored the UIGEA of 2006. For the past few years, ‘bad actor clauses’ have been aimed at keeping illegal operators out of California—if and when a bill actually passes, that is—but now it seems like more and more vested interests are swaying their favor in the direction of PokerStars.

California Assembly to Vote on Web Poker Bill AB 431Every bad actor clause to date has been (theoretically) aimed at preventing PokerStars from participating in a California online poker market. The company was portrayed in many lights, from duplicitous for its acceptance of Californians after 2006, to a threatening entity far too difficult to compete with.

Now some groups are changing their opinions of the world’s largest online poker room. The latest confirmation of compromise came from Jan Jones Blackhurst, the Executive VP of Communications and Government Relations for Caesars Entertainment. Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance confirmed the company’s opinion yesterday on Twitter:

Interestingly enough, the announcement from Caesars comes on the heels of the casino company’s California partner, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, who made a similar declaration just days prior. The Rincon were previously sided with Pechanga and its allies, who were adamant that UIGEA-breachers like PokerStars, as well as pari-mutuel racing tracks, should not be permitted to hold an online poker license.

On Tuesday, three of those tribes shifted their focus when the heads of the Rincon, Pala and United Auburn Indian Community each signed a letter addressed to the authors of California’s two online poker bills, Assemblymen Mike Gatto (AB 9) and Reggie Jones-Sawyer (AB 2291).

In the letter from the California tribes, it was suggested that lawmakers take “an approach that looks specifically at personal participation in unauthorized gaming.” While they still believe companies that willfully defied the UIGEA, and continue to be headed by the same individuals, should be excluded, the letter advised: “If a company that engaged in unauthorized gaming changed ownership, regulators would be able to review the effect of that change in ownership under the bill’s standards.”

Where they have yet to compromise, however, is the matter of whether assets belonging to a company under new ownership should be permissible. To that end, PokerStars may be able to enter a California online poker market, but whether they should be allowed to use the original PokerStars software is another matter.

“While we have not yet identified a possible consensus position,” said the tribes, “we encourage continued conversation on this important issue to identify an approach based on considerations of fairness, regulatory integrity, and legal requirements at issue.”

The letter appears to reflect the results of a tribal gaming meeting that took place in California this week, where the subject of online poker regulation was highlighted. All tribes agreed that compromise is the key to getting online poker legalized in the Golden State. It certainly seems that some tribes are working diligently toward that end, and in doing so, the Rincon have harvested the support of their gaming partner, Caesars Entertainment.

On day 1 of the new legislative session in California, Assemblyman Mike Gatto made a bold move, introducing an internet poker bill to state legislators. Officially tagged AB 9, the new California online poker bill seems to be little more than the rehashing of previous attempts, but with a few unique paragraphs added. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) offered its initial reaction on Thursday, which wasn’t appositive one, but said they need more details before choosing which side of the fence to hop down on.

The key issue for the PPA was a new element that would require online poker players to facilitate certain transactions in person. Once registered, a player would have to make their very first deposit, as well as their first withdrawal, at an authorized land-based facility. Gatto’s California online poker bill also obligates players making a substantial deposit or withdrawal –the actual amount was left blank, although Gatto estimated anywhere from $300 to $10,000 – to make that transaction in person.

AB 9 specifies that licensed casinos would be primary destinations for physical monetary transfers. However, in addition to California casinos and card rooms that hold a license to operate online poker, the measure would sanction smaller casinos around the state to act as “satellite service centers”. Gatto said that, in this manner, every person in California should be no more than 1 hour away from an eligible casino or satellite service center.

According to the Assemblyman, his online poker bill has two major benefits. First, he explained that the deposit/withdrawal requirements would help to boost the land-based gambling industry for both tribal casinos and commercial card rooms, especially supporting smaller, locally owned businesses that may fear cannibalization.

Secondly, the Assemblyman said that facilitating early and sizable transactions in person will help to eliminate underage gambling and money laundering. The Poker Players Alliance was less acquiescent to that second point.

“If [Gatto’s] doing it because he thinks it’s a way to get people into the casino, that’s one thing,” says John Pappas, Director of the PPA. “If he’s doing it because he thinks it’s a way to stop minors from playing or people from fraudulently withdrawing money, he needs to be informed that safeguards already are in place online that not only the Internet poker industry is using but all sorts of e-commerce.”

Pappas wasn’t exactly on board with the idea that Gatto’s online poker bill will increase foot traffic at small casinos and poker rooms either. The PPA believes gambling establishments would have more success if they use online poker to attract new customers that don’t already frequent cards rooms, then use special incentives to bring those new players into the live realm. Smaller casinos and card rooms who join forces with the bigger brands would also be able to increase patronage via similar incentives.

“The problem here,” Pappas explicated, “is that enthusiasts are likely to make that effort, but the average consumer isn’t going to, and I think for the health of the game we need both enthusiasts and the average consumer.” Pappas called the poker industry an “ecosystem”, saying Gatto’s online poker bill, as written, is an “unproven model”.

Furthermore, Pappas questioned the bill’s suitability. “The previous model of people being able to register, deposit, and withdraw all online is proven to work, so why are we creating one more barrier that could perhaps lead to an unsuccessful marketplace?”

Rather than opposing the new California online poker bill right out of the gate, Pappas admitted it’s too soon to take a side. “I think we have to better understand how this would work and get some feedback from the players themselves. From what I’ve understood about how online poker worked successfully in the past, the ability to deposit and withdraw from your computer was paramount.”

The race is back on in California as the first online poker bill has been introduced to the state government. Proposed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, this new online poker measure contains some interesting key alterations compared to previous attempts. While the context would greatly benefit land-based casinos and card rooms, horse racing tracks won’t be permitted to participate, and neither will PokerStars.

Starting with the most important text for online poker players in California, we’ll examine the newly revised ‘bad actors’ clause. It reads much like the old one supplied by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, where any operators that accepted Californians since 2007, (thereby breaching the UIGEA of 2006), are prohibited from obtaining a license. However, the amended section also eliminates operators that were acquired by a new parent company after breaching that law.

In reference to bad actors, Gatto’s online poker bill reads:

In the Legislature’s judgment, a knowing decision to purchase or otherwise acquire that data for use in connection with Internet poker in the state bears directly on the applicant’s suitability and must be considered in any determination whether to license that applicant under this chapter.

Hence PokerStars, under the new ownership of Canada-based Amaya Gaming, would be excluded.

Racing tracks won’t make the grade either, according to Gatto’s legislation. The bill says regulators should license “only those entities that are otherwise eligible to offer real-money poker games within the state that have significant experience operating in a regulated land-based gaming facility environment.” Therefore, the state would license “only those entities in California that have experience operating card rooms and tribal gaming facilities that are currently permitted to offer live real-money poker games”.

The bad actors clause and exclusion of racing tracks from participation in a California online poker market have been two of the most debated arguments since the state first began discussing legalization years ago. However, Gatto did say in an interview with PokerNews that he is not opposed to amending the bad actors clause or exclusion of racing facilities.

To get more tribal casinos and card rooms on board, the online poker bill was designed to ensure that all land-based operations are not cannibalized by online poker, including the smaller operators around the state. The bill would require new players to make their first deposit in person at the website’s corresponding casino or an associated ‘satellite service center’ (smaller casino / card room associated with the operator). In addition, deposits and withdrawals that exceed a certain amount must be made in person at a similarly eligible location. Gatto explained that every Californian should be at least within one hour of such a location, and that it would ensure all establishments are still patronized all over the state.

The actual minimum/maximum purchase and withdrawal amounts associated with that section were left blank in the text of the online poker bill. Gatto later said that the amount could range anywhere from $300 to $10,000. He also justified the in-person payment requirements as being added to help eliminate the threat of underage gambling and money laundering.

It should be noted that Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer is still expected to introduce a revamped version of his previous California online poker bill in the near future. That new bill is supposedly being scripted to allow more operators to participate in the industry, including PokerStars and possibly racing tracks.

With the possibility of a regulated online poker market still up in the air in California, a local tribe has traversed the virtual countryside by launching a brand new online casino in New Jersey, Pala Casino. The Pala Band of Mission Indians launched after partnering with The Borgata in Atlantic City, and says an online poker venue is on the horizon.

Pala Casino is operated by Pala Band of Mission IndiansPala Casino received approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to launch the new Pala Casino dot-com, which went live late last week weekend in the Garden State. This marks the first time a real money, tribal owned online casino has launched under the authorized regulation of a US state, albeit located outside of the tribe’s home jurisdiction.

The Pala Band has been working diligently to increase the revenue at its Pala Casino Resort and Spa, situated on the Pala Indian Reservation just outside of San Diego, California. With 2,000 slot machines, nearly 100 table games and an assortment of 10 inviting restaurants, the 500-guest room facility is now in great shape, leaving the tribe with nothing more to do than wait on California legislators. The tribe has been anticipating the launch of regulated online poker in the Golden State, going so far as to contract American poker pro Phil Ivey as its brand ambassador last year, but the tribe had apparently grown weary of playing the waiting game.

“We will operate only in New Jersey and that means the product will change and improve over time; the player journey, issues related to geolocation, the gamification of the sign up process so that it is more engaging for the player,” said Jim Ryan, CEO of Pala Interactive, which operates the new Pala Casino website. “All this attention to detail will mean that the 90 plus games that we will be offering will be the best they can be for our customers.”

The tribe announced long ago that they intended to enter the online casino industry, but considering the landscape of iGaming in California, it makes sense that they would choose a more fertile ground for their operations. New Jersey has by far the highest population of the three states that have authorized online poker and/or casino gambling, and despite suspected market saturation, Pala feels thy will be able to gain a strong enough foothold in the Garden State.

“We had a solid weekend and we have yet to start marketing,” Ryan explained the tribe’s enthusiasm for the Pala Casino website. “We believe we are breaking into the New Jersey market at the perfect time.” The extension of the product to include an online poker room is expected to occur as early as the first quarter of 2015.

As for Phil Ivey’s former sponsorship deal with Pala, that has likely dissolved considering the current circumstances. Ivey’s relationship with The Borgata isn’t the best right now. He is currently in the middle of a lawsuit, filed by the Atlantic City casino, in which he is accused of cheating the Borgata out of $9.6 million by exploiting a defect in the cards at the Baccarat tables.