Online poker regulation in California moved one step closer to becoming a reality as coalitions of a number of the state’s powerful Indian tribes have reportedly reached an agreement on drafting an online poker bill.
Coalitions headed by the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians are said to be in favor of moving forward with Internet poker legislation after a pow-wow in San Diego recently led to resolving several key sticking points. Another sit-down is scheduled for May 27 in which the online poker bill will be discussed further, eGR reported.
We have made excellent progress and will be working together on the passage of intrastate Internet poker,” said tribal lobbyist Jerome Encinas. “We are very happy that the tribes have come together on key differences and look forward to providing agreed upon language to the legislature.”
The language agreed upon centers around the number of poker sites that a licensee would be permitted to operate. San Manuel was reportedly in favor of putting no restrictions on site limits while Pechanga felt that one per licensee would suffice. Peace was reached when the coalitions agreed upon two.
To no one’s surprise, the tribes also reached an accord regarding excluding horse racing interests from holding an online poker license. Legislation proposed in previous years by Sen. Roderick Wright had sought to include racetracks. Wright has since been convicted on eight counts pertaining to voter fraud and he no longer chairs the Senate Governmental Organization Committee that oversees gaming laws.
One remaining contentious issue standing in the way of online poker legislation in the Golden State is the recent partnership agreement reached between PokerStars, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and three state card rooms. PokerStars is viewed as a “bad actor” for continuing to operate in the U.S. market post-UIGEA and two online poker bills pending before the state legislature include bad actor language that would exclude the industry giant from participating.
The draft being worked on by the Pechanga and San Manuel tribal factions allegedly addresses the bad actor dilemma. While specifics have not yet been released, some industry observers are of the mind that PokerStars may be allowed to participate after perhaps adhering to some form of penalty.
Penalization may be effected through monetary fines and/or license restrictions for a certain period of time, californiaonlinepoker.com speculated. Details will be further known once the draft online poker bill is finalized and made public, but indications are that a compromise regarding bad actors may be in the offing.
The 2014 legislative session concludes in August and industry scuttlebutt has surfaced with leanings toward the possible approval of Internet poker legislation before lawmakers adjourn. A recent tweet by Pechanga.net editor Victor Rocha indicated as much when he tweeted, “I was told by people much smarter than me that it will pass this session.”
While New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware and other states that eventually approve Internet poker regulations would love to include California and its population of 38 million in a future interstate online poker scheme, that possibility looks grim as all the recent proposals emanating from the Golden State are fixed upon intrastate poker only. The draft being created by San Manuel and Pechanga follows in that vein.