On Wednesday 25 California card rooms sent a letter to State Senator Lou Correa throwing their support behind a hypothetical state sponsored an online poker bill.
In all the 25 card rooms operate 628 poker tables across the state — the letter states that there are 88 licensed card rooms in the state. The two biggest names that signed off on the letter were the Hustler Casino and Hollywood Park Casino.
The letter is very general in scope and detail with the exception of when it comes to so-called “Bad Actors,” where the 25 card rooms seem to be on the same page as the proposed bill crafted by a coalition of 13 tribes last month.
However, there is also a section where the card rooms seem to differ from the tribes, and that is in regards who should be able to apply for a license.
On Card Room Participation
The letter’s main purpose seems to be to make sure all card rooms in California have an opportunity to participate in (or at the very least benefit from) online poker and are not precluded by strict parameters, something they seem to think might occur if the tribes are allowed to craft the bill on their own.
As currently proposed, only larger and more powerful gaming interests would be involved in California online poker, and Wednesday’s letter makes this very clear by stating: “Legislation that pretends to include card rooms but handicaps or otherwise restricts their effective participation is not good policy.”
On Bad Actors
The letter specifically states that the 25 card rooms feel any company that accepted internet wagers “after changes to federal law in 2006… should be categorically precluded from receiving state gambling licenses.”
According to the letter, several card rooms considered entering the online poker market during this time but did not because they “respect the spirit and letter of state and federal law,” later stating that it would be a “mockery of the law” to allow these companies [that continued to operate after 2006] to be part of the California online poker industry.
The letter does not go into nearly as much detail as the proposed bill mentioned above (the letter to Senator Correa is all of four pages with the fourth being a list of the card rooms who signed off on the letter) but seems similar in substance when it comes to a bad actor clause, as it calls for any online poker bill to “clearly define those terms.”
Like the tribal gaming interests in the state, there is also a rift between card rooms, as the Bicycle Club, The Commerce Casino and Hawaiian Gardens Casino have aligned themselves with PokerStars and the Morongos.
With the legislative deadline looming (August 31) there seems to be a resurgence in online poker talk in California, with this letter and the threatened launch of an online poker room by the Santa Ysabel tribe perhaps hinting that California hasn’t given up hope for a 2014 bill just yet.
— Victor Rocha (@VictorRocha1) July 17, 2014
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