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PokerStars, Morongo Oppose California Tribal Online Poker Bill

The partnership between the Morongo tribe, PokerStars and three state card rooms have jointly issued a response to the proposed online poker legislation of a tribal coalition 13 members strong, vehemently opposing the bad actor language contained within the bill.

Calling the latest proposal a “blatant attempt to provide certain interests with an unfair competitive advantage by arbitrarily locking out trusted iPoker brands,” the coalition made up of PokerStars, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Commerce Club card rooms, will continue to make good on a vow first stated roughly five weeks ago to “vigorously oppose” any online poker legislation in California that excludes PokerStars.

The 13-tribe coalition sent a draft bill to lawmakers earlier this week in a show of unity that provided encouragement to those who have watched the tribes fail to agree on the online gambling issue for a number of years. But those encouraging signs were perhaps equally disheartening when the draft proposal kept a hard line on the bad actor issue by refusing to compromise with regard to allowing gaming companies to participate who serviced the U.S. market after Dec. 31, 2006.

Make no mistake, we believe strongly that all licensees and operators should meet the highest standards of accountability and suitability,” stated the Morongo-PokerStars-cardrooms press release.” We believe the job of determining suitability should be left with the existing regulators.”

The PokerStars and Morongo faction insists that the tribal coalition is in violation of both California and U.S. constitutions with its anti-competitive stance that aims to ban “companies that have never admitted or been convicted of wrongdoing, are duly licensed in jurisdictions around the world, and have set the gold standard in the online poker industry for game and financial integrity and player satisfaction.”

The Rational Group, parent company of PokerStars and Full Tilt, does possess more online gambling licenses internationally than any other gaming company. In settlement negotiations with the DoJ in 2012 in which the assets of Full Tilt were acquired, Rational admitted no wrongdoing and was granted permission to apply for licensure in U.S. markets as would any other company.

It appears as though this fight will go on and any hopes of online poker legislation finding approval in California during the current legislative session set to expire in August will not be realized. With revenue estimates suggesting online poker to be nearly a billion dollar industry in the Golden State in a handful of years, one would expect the matter to be resolved eventually. But now is apparently not the time.

Many had envisioned that other states would quickly follow suit in enacting Internet gambling regulations after Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey did so last year. A regulated U.S. online poker boom of sorts.

There seems to be no “boom” on the horizon, just a slow and tedious state-by-state advancement of regulations that will take years to spread. Each state must go through its own legislative process and some, like California, are more contentious than others with regard to bickering as to who may or may not participate.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.