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PokerStars Deflects Blame for California iPoker Failure

Two bills that would have legalized online poker for the state of California were pulled last month after lawmakers felt that there was insufficient time to properly iron out details. Much of the blame for the failure of these bills has been laid at the feet of PokerStars and the bad actor clause that may prevent them from entering California. recently reached out to PokerStars regarding the matter and the company has a different take on the matter. They recently spoke with PokerStar’s Director of Group Strategy and Business Development Guy Templer and he defended the company, stating that the bad actor clause was not the problem but rather a lack of universal support by California stakeholders that is preventing legislation from moving forward.

Where Does the Problem Lie?

Templer mentioned in the article that there is more support for online poker currently than at any point in the state’s history. Back in June, thirteen California Tribes led by the Pechanga sent a letter to the state legislature claiming that the tribes had reached a consensus on online poker.

This letter was significant because it represented a “meeting of the minds” of most of the major tribes in the state. The key word there is most.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is the one major tribe that has not chosen to join this consensus and rather entered into an agreement with PokerStars to allow the company to provide online poker services. This agreement has led to a bit of a stalemate as the Morongo has hinted at a Constitutional challenge to any bill that includes a bad actor clause. They believe that it is equal to a bill of attainder and therefore unconstitutional.

However, Tribes are not the only stakeholders at odds over online poker. As the previous bills were written, California racetracks would not be allowed to participate in the legalized marketplace.

In recent months there have been rumblings of racetracks potentially throwing up a potential court challenge should they not be included in the bill.

Consensus that Change is Needed

Templer holds the opinion of many legal analysts in that a consensus is needed between all parties before any bill can move forward. The state has tried to get a bill passed for several years and the issue has never even reached a vote.

He is not alone in a belief that something needs to change in order to move forward. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer is currently working on a new online poker bill for the state but believes that language for the bad actor clause must be modified. He believes that it should be modified so that it is applied fairly across the board and closes the door on any potential legal challenges.

Jones-Sawyer will have several months to prepare his bill and to work towards a compromise on relevant issues. Realistically, some type of progress will need to be made in short order surrounding the lack of consensus between tribes before we can realistically expect any California poker bill to even come to a vote.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.