Avatar Radio ads in favor of online poker legislation in California

On Tuesday, a regulated online poker advocacy group spearheaded by PokerStars announced the official launch of its campaign to push for the authorization of legal online poker in California.

The launch was made official via a press statement (see text below) released by the coalition.

It also coincided with the addition of new marketing vehicles, namely a 60 second radio spot and web display ads, which complement the print materials published by the coalition on its website californias4ipoker.com last week.

“Californians for  Responsible iPoker” is currently comprised of Amaya / PokerStars, the Commerce Casino, the Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

More on CRI here.

CRI: “Tell your legislators it’s time to regulate iPoker”

As part of its front line efforts, CRI has taken to the airwaves.

The primary message conveyed in the group’s first radio ad is that it’s high time California regulated online poker.

It supports this message via the following points:

  • California is potentially losing out on millions in revenue by not regulating online poker
  • Residents will voluntarily expose themselves to the risks associated with playing on unlicensed poker sites if that is their only option.
  • Regulation protects consumers and adds safeguards that will prevent underage gambling
  • Online poker has been successfully regulated in “dozens of countries and several US states”
  • Regulation ensures that only vetted companies are permitted to operate in the state

The only mention of PokerStars is as one of the advertisement’s sponsors, although it is easily inferred that when the ad mentions “licensed, responsible companies” it is referring to Stars.

This serves in stark contrast to the message vocalized by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in their own radio spot launched in early-June, which makes several direct and negative references to both PokerStars and new owner Amaya.

Those who have followed PokerStars since Black Friday know that the Viejas’ claims against the company are based on exaggerations and selective truths, but there’s a huge segment of the population that may not know better than to take the Viejas’ message at face value.

Which is why CRI was well within its right to take aim at every single one of the Viejas’ attacks.

Instead it opted for the high road, calling for residents to contact their legislators about the broader issue of regulation, as opposed to directly involving them in the contentious debate dividing California’s gambling factions.

What’s next for CRI?

As per the release, the coalition will launch its “Let California Play!” PokerStars Pro Tour at some point this summer.

The initiative wil send recognized poker ambassadors such as Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst and Jason Somerville to California card rooms where they will spend time educating the populace as to the merits of regulation.

PokerStars’ ability to leverage some of the biggest names in poker as a means of generating positive press for its cause is arguably one of the most powerful tools at CRI’s disposal, and may be particularly effective at turning the younger generation of players (who may or may not have had the opportunity to play on Stars prior to Black Friday) on to the message CRI is selling.

Somerville in particular has the ability to push for online poker regulation via his heavily trafficked live stream channel on Twitch.

Specifics as to when and where the Tour will debut are coming soon.

What’s on tap for California?

On Wednesday, the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee will host an informational hearing entitled “The Legality of Internet Poker – How Prepared Is California to Regulate It?”

Hearings of this nature are useful at gauging overall interest in and attitudes toward online poker regulation.

View the agenda here.

A second hearing is scheduled for July 8.

CRI full press statement

Tribal, Cardroom and PokerStars Coalition Launch Campaign to Engage Californians to Pass Online Poker Bill in California

Ad campaign, grassroots advocacy website and poker celebrity tour announced.

SACRAMENTO – A coalition of groups in support of authorizing and regulating online poker in California announced today a statewide program to engage California citizens, businesses and others in a grassroots campaign to pass an online poker bill in California.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, California’s three largest card clubs – Commerce Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Bicycle Casino – and Amaya Inc. (TSX; AYA; Nasdaq: AYA), owner of PokerStars, today began airing 60 second radio ads and online advertising asking people to contact legislators and to urge them to protect consumers by authorizing and regulating online poker in California.

In addition to the ad campaign, the coalition launched a new advocacy website, www.Californians4iPoker.com, which will serve as a portal for citizens, businesses, and poker players to engage in the conversation to authorize iPoker and connect with legislators to voice their support.

Later this summer the “Let California Play!” PokerStars Pro Tour will launch, bringing PokerStars celebrity poker pros to cardrooms throughout California as a means of educating citizens and engaging the thousands of California live poker players in the iPoker conversation.

“We intend to push online poker over the finish line,” said San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. “Authorizing online poker by creating a strictly regulated marketplace in California is the right thing to do for consumers, and it’s the right thing to do for the state.”

“We believe strongly that regulating iPoker is good for consumers, and we will not stand by and let a few entrenched interests derail this important consumer issue,” said Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Robert Martin. “Our campaign is about offering Californians choice and much needed consumer protections, and is intended to engage poker players and others who support state regulation of iPoker.”

“This year we’ve seen a lot of positive momentum and that has obviously scared those who want to derail online poker forever,” said Keith Sharp of Falk & Sharp, representing the three cardrooms. “By taking our effort directly to consumers and getting legislators’ constituents engaged, we think we can disrupt the logjam.”

“As a global home of innovation, technology and consumer rights, it’s time California updated its old laws and regulated online poker to protect consumers, and bring new revenue to California,” said Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications, Amaya Inc. and PokerStars.

The Californians for Responsible iPoker website will be the hub for all legislative advocacy efforts going forward, allowing people to sign up, join the coalition and receive regular updates, and ultimately will allow constituents to directly connect with their legislators.  The website also lists Top 10 Reasons to Authorize and Regulate Online Poker in California as well as the coalition’s guiding Principles for Establishing Online Poker in California.

The “Let California Play!” PokerStars Pro Tour is a collaboration between PokerStars and cardrooms that support authorizing online poker in California. More details will be forthcoming about the Pro Tour which hits the road this summer.

Robert DellaFave - Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several online poker publications and dreams of one day programming a poker simulation clever enough to beat the pros. Read more by following @DivergentGames on Twitter.