The PPA vs. California Card Rooms

Fires flare over Commerce opposition to online gambling bill

by , Aug 29, 2010 | 9:48 am

Drama was out in full force this past week, with allegations of hypocrisy, cheating, and extortion exploding through the poker world, which was still feeling aftershocks from an Annie Duke/Daniel Negreanu feud that had reached new levels of nastiness after Negreanu’s aggressive C-bet. But the poker fight that really blew up late last week was between the Commerce Casino and PPA, and shows how heated political matters can get in a very short period of time.

Open letter from pros, PPA website target Commerce
Though Barney Frank’s online gambling bill made it out of committee last month relatively unscathed, one troublesome opponent came from the Commerce Casino in California. In an effort to squelch the impact of their dissent, the PPA sends its million-plus members word of an open letter to the Commerce (signed by a few dozen top-level pros) and launches PlayersBeforeProfits.com, making it easy for poker players to bombard the Commerce with tweets, emails, and phone calls voicing displeasure.

Commerce says PPA misguided, Frank bill will cost jobs and hurt poker
Commerce board member Tom Malkasian, who testified against HR 2267 last month, turned up his rhetoric against the PPA, saying they are ignoring key issues. The Commerce has a right to fight against unfair competition from offshore operations, he tells PokerNewsDaily, and its something they must do to protect California revenue, American jobs, and poker player interests, he says. At least Duke and Negreanu seem back on the same team, having both signed the initial letter and both tweeting to help get thousands of signatures for the PPA in just a couple days. Duke hints at plans for a boycott.

Bike, other California casinos lock step with Commerce
In what’s becoming an increasingly hostile back and forth, the PPA appears to be winning the PR battle, now with more than 6,000 signatures and countless tweets to Congress. The Commerce counters with even bigger numbers and a sign their side is growing, too. They mass-email a press release late Friday, announcing a unified front with other major California card rooms, including the Bicycle, Hawaiian Gardens, and Hollywood Park. These card rooms claim they collectively represent more than 20,000 California employees and handle $13.4 billion in wagers, all of which would be severely threatened by the Frank bill.

Industry Leaders Join Together with Commerce Casino in Opposing Frank Bill; “California Will Lose If Frank Bill Is Passed”

The letter suggests HR 2267 is too broad, and would be more acceptable if it tried to legalize poker-only, not all online gambling. It also says the Commerce welcomes the emails, but asks concerned players to use their new email address supportonlinepoker@commercecasino.net.

Boycott Commerce?
Twitter suggested lots of support for the idea, but few if any have thus far declared intent to cancel plans or skip the upcoming Commerce Hold’em Series, which kicks off Wednesday with a $500k Guarantee.


  • Brian G.

    This is healthy. The PPA is making their case, Commerce is making theirs, and if the PPA members don’t like it, they can bring their live business elsewhere in response.

    What Commerce is doing is protecting their own interests, which they should be doing. But, and perhaps they already know this, any effect on their business from online poker is already felt by them and nothing that happens in the future will change that.

    The last paragraph of the story shows why a boycott against Commerce would fail. If there is poker to be played and money to be had, players are going to show up. Plus, I am sure the majority of players think what I do, which is that no matter what Commerce does, there will be a place to play online poker.

    In my view, what this argument over the bill comes down to is not whether there will be online poker in the future, but about who will have the market share when it becomes legalized and regulated.

  • This would be healthier still if there wasn’t as much finger pointing with both sides going “No, they are the real villains!”

  • I enjoy going to the Bike, Commerce etc. and I enjoy playing a little on line poker every now and then. They both need each other Commerce has to realize on line has been going on for awhile and is really not hurting them and on line has to realize the B&M is good for their sites.

    Its a two street you scratch my back i’ll scratch yours. I hope they can come to some sort of solution here.

    I am not going to boycott either or say who is right or who is wrong!

    Just going to continue improving my game. Maybe these guys should find ways of improving their quality product.

  • Graeberite

    Saw this on another forum and found it so profound that I had to share:

    Considering that the Commerce is basically partners with Morongo Casino on their Internet Poker venture, interesting that they have remained silent on this issue. I’d love to be a fly on the wall during their California Intertribal Intrastate Poker Consortium. I wonder what the other 21 +- tribes have to say about this and if this will affect the alliance. FYI – Morongo has spent $80 million on their lobbying efforts. Considering there are only 3 Cali State Internet Poker licenses proposed in the Bill (1 cardroom, 1 tribal, one gaming entity), they were obviously trying to corral the market with all three (internet articles re Party Poker and Commerce). Competition is best for the players, and no one entity should have a corner on the market. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.