Amid the furor of poker players regarding his testimony in front of a Congressional committee, Commerce Casino board member Tom Malkasian responded late yesterday to Poker News Daily about the brewing controversy.
In the statement, Malkasian defended the position he made during testimony by saying, “The Poker Players Alliance is ignoring the grave threat that the federal and state legislation poses to everyday poker players. America’s poker industry should be united in opposing the Frank and McDermott legislation and keeping American dollars at home.”
Malkasian, who testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee in July during hearings for HR 2267 (the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act), continued to defend his stance by saying in the statement, “Federal and state regulation of online poker is coming and we can either fight to ensure that poker players’ interests are protected or allow illegal foreign operators, who are siphoning millions of American dollars out of this country, to dominate the U.S. market. We support the passage of federal and state legislation that will provide California poker players with a safe, secure, and well-regulated online playing environment.”
Malkasian said in closing. “If domestic card casinos do not defend themselves from offshore interests, we stand to lose not only revenue but also the loss of jobs. We are against the Frank and McDermott bills. (The) Poker Players Alliance should be against this, too.”
In his testimony in July, Malkasian said the position of the Commerce Casino was against the introduced legislation for several reasons. The proposed revenues of the new law, which have been quoted as high as $42 billion over a ten year period, are based on “false assumptions and conflicting representations,” according to Malkasian’s testimony in Congress. There are also questions over the regulatory nature of the bill as well as the opt in/out language that would set what states would be a part of the law if passed.
Poker players, backed by the Poker Players Alliance and several top pros, acted quickly to counteract Malkasian’s stance – and, by extension, the Commerce Casino’s position. A website called Players Before Profits sprung up offering an open letter to the Commerce Casino that decries their stance against the legislation. This letter has been endorsed by over 5,000 people, including several top poker professionals and hundreds of recreational players.
Twitter has also been an active battleground in the discussion, with many issuing Tweets spawned by the Players Before Profits site. As reported yesterday here on Poker News Daily, some players have even talked about the potential for a boycott of the games at one of California’s most popular (and largest) card room. Although he has signed the open letter to the Commerce Casino regarding its position, poker professional Barry Greenstein has used Twitter to clearly explain both sides of the issue.
Over the span of several Tweets, Greenstein discusses the issue fairly: “Commerce Casino management feels they are being unfairly singled out as the bad guys. Many CA casinos are against online (gambling). They seemed ok (with the proposed regulatory laws) if regulators will be as strict with shareholders of online casinos as with them.”
Greenstein also notes the positives of online play by Tweeting, “We can’t accurately measure the effect online poker has on the land based casinos, but I think it has been positive.” He finishes his Tweet series by saying, “Especially if we keep the trend of online qualifying for live tournaments. Online (poker) produces new players.”
The eventual outcome of the current rift between players and the Commerce Casino is, as of yet, unknown. Poker News Daily will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as news comes available.