Churchill Downs Signed Online Poker Partnership with LA’s Crystal Casino and Ocean’s 11 Casino

Churchill Downs is the latest gaming company to forge an online poker partnership. The world’s most famous horse racing venue reached a deal with the Crystal Casino & Hotel in Los Angeles and the Ocean’s 11 in Oceanside. The two casinos are owned by the same gaming group.

While the California legislature does not appear ready to legalize online poker in 2015, the decision by the Kentucky Derby organizers to get involved in the state’s potential online poker industry is another sign that industry insiders believe it’s a matter of time. The deal only would come into force if the state legislature approved online gambling, though efforts to do so in 2014 and 2015 have come to nothing.

California Online Poker Worth $380 Million

One estimate of the California online poker suggested the industry would be worth $380 million a year. That would be about three times what New Jersey made in its first year of online gambling. California has almost 4 times the population of New Jersey, but it is only legalizing Internet poker rooms–not online casinos.

Still, the nature of the poker market greatly favors a state with a dense population. Results of the population four times as larger are likely to have an exponential impact.

Jason Les Describes Cali

Poker pro Jason Les discussed the probability of California licensing online card rooms recently. Les said, “It is a huge market, a high population, a rich population, a gambling population.

Assembly Bill 167

Online gaming legislation is not entirely dead in California this year. Several online sources have stated that Assembly Bill 167 is set for debate in the California General Assembly. If that bill receives a surprising positive response or the Native American tribes come to an unlikely agreement in the next few weeks, that bill could be passed.

Morongo vs Pechanga

At the present, two tribal coalitions are at odds over the future of California’s online gambling tribe. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians leads a small group of tribes which wants to include PokerStars in the launch of the industry, because the Moronga Band signed a corporate deal with PokerStars, the leading poker site in the world.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians leads a much-larger coalition of tribal groups which want to exclude PokerStars from California, based on its “bad actor” status. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians owns the biggest brick-and-mortar casino in the state and has the biggest pile of cash to lobby state lawmakers on the issue. One anonymous legislator indicated no bill had a realistic chance of succeeding without the support of the Pechange Band of Luiseno Indians and their allies.

Jason Les Beaten by Claudico

Speaking of Jason Les, he made history three months ago when he took on a non-human challenger in the game of poker. No, Mr. Les did not play an alien.

In May 2015, he agreed to play Claudico, a card-playing computer, in poker. Les was defeated by Claudico, though he was glad he had the experience. He said, “I thought this was a historic event and a big landmark in poker and artificial intelligence. And I’m happy that I came up here and I was able to be a part of the winning team.

The game included several pros, who actually broke even as a group against the AI player. The researchers at the Carnegie Mellon Institute who programmed Claudico said they would rework the algorithms to make the computer player improved the next time it played people. For his par, Jason Les said he expected computers one day would be unbeatable at poker.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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