California Tribal Business Alliance Intensifies Attack on PokerStars

California Tribal Business Alliance Intensifies Attack on PokerStars

The brewing battle over the possible participation by PokerStars as a software supplier in a future California online poker market has intensified again, this time in the form of a second statement from California Tribal Business Alliance chairwoman Leslie Lohse, directly attacking the alleged corporate sins of Stars, which from 2006 to 2011 was the largest US-facing site.

CTBA Chairwoman Leslie Lohse

CTBA Chairwoman Leslie Lohse

Lohse and the CTBA were one of two California tribal entities whose attacks on PokerStars were featured when we looked at the turbulent California situation earlier this week.  The CTBA consists of just three of the several dozen California tribal nations that exist, the the Pala, Paskenta and Viejas nations.  The three CTBA tribes are in turn part of the 12-tribe coalition led by the Pechanga nation — which operates the state’s largest tribal casino — which also issued a statement attacking PokerStars.

That Pechanga-led, 12-tribe coalition is also the driving force behind the Reggie Jones-Sawyer AB 2291 Cali online-poker bill which is notable for several noxious inclusions, including a bad-actor provision designed specifically to bar PokerStars from the California market.

Which brings us to Lohse’s latest, a manipulative little piece of political theater designed to further the Pechanga coalition’s apparent goal, which is to smear as much dirt as possible on anything associated with Stars as the state’s legislative bodies.  Here’s that statement:

Nevada doesn’t want them. New Jersey rejected them. So now they’re knocking on California’s door?

In an effort to come out of exile, PokerStars is attempting to work a deal with Morongo and some Southern California card clubs that would open the U.S. market to their participation in iGaming.

As a reminder, this is the group that refused to shutter its site, even after the enactment of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), making online gambling illegal. In 2011, the Department of Justice issued orders mandating the site close down, filed a civil action to seize the company’s assets acquired post-UIGEA, and threatened imprisonment alleging, among other things, Conspiracy, Money Laundering, Bank Fraud and violations of the Wire Act. In settlement, they paid a $731 million fine, but admitted no wrongdoing.

CTBA will strongly oppose any legislation that allows for bad actors, who flagrantly ignored U.S. law, bringing their tainted brands and unscrupulous entities back into the United States. From CTBA’s perspective, 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. That’s how we handle things in Indian Country – and that perspective has served the California gaming market well. Players understand that our games are safe, secure and fair. They can’t say that about PokerStars – many players are still feeling the burn from past bad actions by PokerStars and their higher-ups.

In short, the Member Tribes of CTBA will continue to work diligently to ensure any online poker authorization bill will impose strong controls, mandate disclosures, and promote the highest standards of integrity in the gaming industry. Anything less serves to undermine California and the California gaming market.

— Leslie Lohse, CTBA

That’s a hilariously tilted statement from Lohse, full of half-truths and outright lies.  We’re not exactly sure which online poker players are still “feeling the burn” from PokerStars’ supposed bad actions, since not only did PokerStars make full refunds to US players as soon as they were legally allowed to, they also willingly entered into a federal deal where the otherwise-uncompensated victims of Full Tilt received refunds as well.

If the CTBA gig ever goes sidewise, the imaginative Lohse probably has future ahead of her writing scripts for faked reality TV shows, though the family’s doing all right — Lohse’s son Kyle is the well-paid #2 starter for baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers.

But all that’s not the point; the game plan now is to fling as much mud as possible.  California state legislators are watching, and an information-finding hearing is already on the state’s legislative slate.  That hearing, to be conducted on April 23rd by the California Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Organization, plans to examine the “public policy and fiscal implications of authorizing intrastate internet poker in California.

California online-poker still appears to be several years away.  However, the political theater in advance of online poker’s regulated Golden State arrival is coming along just fine.


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