Caesars executive backs PokerStars for legalisation in US

16 February 2015

Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice-president of communication and government relations at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, has spoken out in support of PokerStars’ effort to become legalised in the US.

Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance last week confirmed on social media that Jones Blackhurst said the Amaya Gaming-owned online poker brand “should be considered for legalisation in the US”.

The backing will come as a surprise to many in the market due to Caesars’ long-term support of so-called ‘bad actor’ clauses in online poker bills.

Such clauses aim to exclude any operator or market affiliate involved in online gaming in the US after December 31, 2006, from applying for a licence.

The cut-off date is around the same time that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in the country.

PokerStars operated in the US under an uncertain area of legality until April 2011 when the Justice Department brought criminal charges against the firm’s executives.

Despite not having admitted any wrongdoing, Pokerstars agreed to pay a heavy fine in order to settle a lawsuit.

The support comes shortly after the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Caesars’ online and land-based partner in California, as well as the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community, outlined their new approach to the bad actor clauses in a letter send to Assemblymen Mike Gatto and Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

Both Gatto and Jones-Sawyer have recently introduced new online poker bills in the state of California.

The letter, intercepted by said: “We suggest an approach that looks specifically at personal participation in unauthorised gaming.

“Under this approach, those persons with control over a licensed operator, service provider, or marketing affiliate could not include any person who has personally participated in unauthorised gaming.

“This approach strikes a balance between the state’s need to ensure that persons who wilfully defy gaming laws not be permitted to jeopardise the integrity of internet poker in California, while recognising that control of an entity may change over time in a way that resolves regulatory concerns.

“If a company that engaged in unauthorised gaming changed ownership, regulators would be able to review the effect of that change in ownership under the bill’s standards.

“Use of assets developed through unauthorised internet gaming; we recognise that this is an important issue that remains to be resolved, with different approaches reflected in your respective bills.

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

Related article: Second online poker bill introduced in California