California iPoker Prospects Dim for 2017December 9, 2016 1:35 pm
The state of California has been trying to move forward with online poker legislation for several years now, and despite hopes of success being raised in 2016, the various gaming interests ultimately failed to reach a consensus leading to the whole process falling through. Unfortunately, unresolved differences, as well as a range of other factors, also means that online poker is likely to face similar negative prospects in 2017.
One of the key factors stymying online poker efforts this year was the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and its tribal supporters wanting to see PokerStars allowed to operate in a regulated Californian market, a move vehemently opposed by a second coalition of tribes led by the Pechanga and Agua Caliente tribes. As Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, explains:
“I really wish we could have consensus but I just don’t see it happening. We’ve been at it nine years now and we’re not that much closer.”
Furthermore, the anti-PokerStars coalition feel that their hand has been strengthened recently after Amaya’s former Chairman David Baazov was charged with insider trader activities, with Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro describing Amaya as “even more of a sewer swamp than we originally thought.”
Also acting against the prospect of online poker legalisation next year is the fact that politicians regard it as a minor issue, and the one politician that did sponsor a bill, Assemblyman Adam Gray, ended up entangled in a messy situation that fell flat at the 11th hour. Likewise, a number of tribes are unlikely to want to get involved in lobbying the issue in 2017 considering the ongoing lack of consensus amongst the various tribes, and as Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, explains:
“We’re not really going to try and carry any water on the issue unless the other tribal coalitions – the Morongo group and the Pechanga group – move something forward in some kind of compromise. If tribes want the status quo, from our position we’re prepared to do that.”
According to California gambling regulator Richard Schuetz, any movement on the issue we may see in 2017 will likely be just “lobbyists trying to find some sucker to pay them.”