Californian Tribes Unite Behind Poker Bad Actor ClauseJune 5, 2014 6:28 pm
Recently PokerStars seemed to be making headway in its efforts to feature in a future Californian poker industry after announcing a partnership deal to become the front-facing brand of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. On Tuesday, however, the online poker Goliath was dealt a potentially fatal blow to its Californian dream after 13 of California’s biggest gambling tribes signed and sent a draft internet poker bill to the state legislature proposing, amongst other recommendations, the inclusion of a ‘bad actor’ clause.
Although the 13 tribes united on the issue represented roughly one-fifth of California’s 60+ gambling tribes, the remaining tribes weald significantly less influence on the gaming industry and thus are unlikely to have the power to thwart the bill. That is with the exception of the Morongo tribe, which has already signaled its intention to fight the bill. Following announcement of the draft bill, the tribe along with the other businesses involved in the PokerStars deal, namely the Bicycle Casino, the Hawaiian Gardens Casino and the Commerce Club, released a statement, saying:
“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.”
The ‘bad actors’ clause is reserved for those online poker sites which contravened the UIGEA after it passed in 2006, and while companies such as 888 and PartyPoker now find themselves part of the regulated landscape in the US, PokerStars has, instead, been shut out of New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. In fact, PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg still has an unresolved federal indictment still outstanding against him which, among other factors, continues to prevent PokerStars becoming a major player in the US online poker market.
Other proposals also noted in the 13 tribes’ unified online poker bill is that licenses should only be awarded to casinos and card rooms currently operating in the state, and that operators will have to shell out a one-off $5 million fee for a 10 year license. Commenting on their proposals, a letter sent by the tribes to State Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, read:
“In achieving consensus for Internet poker, we reaffirm our commitment to the longstanding principle of limited gaming that has guided California’s public policy toward gaming. As importantly, we recommit ourselves to realizing legislation that protects children and the vulnerable, creates jobs for Californians, provides additional revenues for state services, and safeguards consumers and the vulnerable from dishonest and unsuitable operators.”