Key California Tribes Reach Agreement on Online Poker Bill

sealofCaliforniaA joint letter and unified online poker bill was sent to the California legislature on Tuesday, signed by 13 of the state’s most influential gaming tribes.

Predictably absent from the letter and bill draft was the signature of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, as the unified bill would disqualify their chosen online poker partner, PokerStars.

The letter was addressed to State Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (the sponsors of the current online poker bills in the state legislature) and outlined the newly reached consensus between the undersigned tribes, as well as a draft copy of their online poker bill, called the “The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2014.”

This “unified” bill is seen as a necessary next step in California online poker legislation being passed in 2014.

Operators limited to “qualified” tribes and card rooms

The new (yet to be introduced) bill features several provisions that would limit operator licenses to “a qualified federally recognized California Indian tribe” or “a qualified card room” and limit the number of skins per license to two.

In addition to “qualified” tribes and card rooms, the racing industry was also left out of the proposed bill.

Bad Actor clause? You bet there is

This latest incarnation of an online poker bill has perhaps the most sweeping and all encompassing bad actor language yet seen in an online poker bill. There are no less than five sections of the bill that reference bad actors; covering everything from operators and service providers, right on down to potential affiliates and key employees.

The bad actor language expressly prohibits PokerStars and any other US online poker operator who operated after December 31, 2006.

In response to the proposed bill and its bad actor language, the faction, which includes Morongo, PokerStars, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino and Hawaiian Gardens Casino, has stated, “Efforts by a select few interests to rewrite longstanding and effective policy in order to gain a competitive market advantage or to lock out specific companies is not in the best interests of consumers or the state and will be vigorously opposed by our coalition, online poker players and many others,”

Who is on board?

While only 13 of California’s 60+ tribes with gaming interests have signed on to this bill they are among the largest and most important in the state.

The Morongos aside, the remainder of California’s gaming tribes simply do not have the political clout to derail the bill, and they will also benefit from the revenue sharing agreement that is currently in place between California tribes.

Here is a look at the 13 tribes that have signed on to the new bill.

  • Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
  • Barona Band of Mission Indians
  • Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians
  • Lytton Band of Pomo Indians
  • Pala Band of Mission Indians
  • Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians
  • Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
  • San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
  • Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians
  • United Auburn Indian Community
  • Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
  • Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

This article was updated to include a response from PokerStars and their California partners.

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