The state of California continues to have issues in regards to efforts being made to legalize online poker based on disagreements between tribes. Prominent tribes in the state are divided on key provisions which has led to legislation being shut down time and time again.
Some tribes in the state feel that only they should have the ability to offer online poker gaming as their Class III gaming compacts give them exclusive rights to such games. Other tribes are insisting that ‘bad actor’ clauses be included in legislation so that groups like PokerStars, who offered services to US residents after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was created, would be shut out of an online poker industry within the state, at least temporarily.
AB 2863 is the latest bill that was on the table in the state to see online poker legalized. The bill was shut down due to a ‘bad actors’ provision. This time it was the supporters of such brands as PokerStars who pushed for the legislation to be changed. The bill did not move forward during the Wednesday legislative session.
The provision of the bill, which did have support from some tribes, would have banned companies like PokerStars from offering online poker gaming services for a five year time frame. Other tribes objected to this provision as they are already partnered with Amaya Gaming which is the owner of the PokerStars brand.
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is one such tribe who has partnered with PokerStars in the hopes of working together once such gaming options are allowed within the state. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, the Chairman of the tribe, Robert Martin, said that AB 2863 met the same fate as measures from the past due to opponents once again attempting to unconstitutionally limit competition by effectively banning one operator in perpetuity from the marketplace of California.
A coalition was formed between Amaya Gaming, the Morongo Band and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, along with card clubs in the state to oppose the measure due to the provision including ‘bad actors’.
Tribes in approval of the measure include the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians and the Agua Caliente Band Of Cahuilla Indians. Speaking on their positon, the Pechanga Band Chairman, Mark Macarro, stated that the measure was the most viable path for the state to legalize online poker in the last eight years. The bill would protect consumers and ensure bad actors are not able to profit from illicit activities.
As the tribes continue to be divided, legislators are not willing to move forward with legislative efforts. It seems that the tribes are going to have to come to some type of compromise before online poker will be legalized within the state.