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I’ve had my fair share of ambiguity. During my 20 years working in the rail industry, I was heavily involved in the implementation of the Traincrew National Agreements in the 2000s.

Not being involved during the negotiations turned out to be a nightmare. In order for both management and the train driver’s union to ‘save face,’ the agreements (called the New Deal for Traincrew) were a web of confused, subjective, misleading diatribe designed to confuse the hell out of everyone.

“This is what that clause means,” said management.

“No it doesn’t,” said the Traincrew union.

It was enough to make a young man quit.

And I did.

When I read proposed legislation for online gambling it takes me back to those bad old days. I have always been taught to write in a way that people can best understand. Simple words, simple sentences, no ambiguity. Clear and concise.

So why do politicians choose to do the opposite?

Assemblyman Mike Gatto has made the news this week after he took an old piece of online gambling legislation, added a few splashes of contradictory paragraphs, and called it the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015.

Boom! California has draft legislation that will move like a slug through the hands of people who don’t have a single clue what they are in the midst of creating.

One would think that Californians are creating a bill on the cloning of human beings. Has anyone told them that we are talking about a game of cards? It seems a stupid question, but given the troubles it has caused, I am sure this simple point may have been missed entirely?

Anyone who cares about poker wants to see PokerStars back in the US. But just like Blur and Oasis in the 90s, the Americans don’t want to see them. Then Amaya Gaming Group got involved and purchased PokerStars for $4.9 billion squid. Genius. Amaya aren’t a bad actor. PokerStars were in.

Conveniently, Gatto and his gang have added a piece of legislation that seems designed for one purpose in mind: to stop Amaya Gaming Group squeezing PokerStars into the California online poker market through the back door.

This is the moment I explain how they have done this, but the bill is written in Martian and so I cannot understand a word of it. Instead, I have left it to my learned colleagues, who seem to understand Martian, to explain by pulling the appropriate clause out from the bill.

(2)(b) The commission shall issue a finding that a license applicant is not suitable to obtain a license if it finds that a person subject to investigation pursuant to this article is described by any of the following: […]

(2)(b)(10) Has purchased or acquired the covered assets of any entity described in paragraph (8) or (9), and will use any of those assets in connection with Internet poker in the state.

Now that’s what I call gobbledygook, but am reliably informed that PokerStars fall under the ‘covered assets’ type, and anyone who has ‘purchased or acquired’ would be Amaya Gaming Group.

It’s suddenly crystal clear.

Amaya Gaming Group will not be getting a license to do business in California. That means the poker community will not get what they want. The ability to play on the best goddam online poker site in the world.

PokerStars and the Coalition (sounds like the name of a local pub rock band) have since issued a statement in reaction to the introduction of AB9 (I wonder if it’s an acronym for absolute bollocks?).

It reads: “As a coalition, we are committed to working with legislators and our other partners in the gaming community to pass Internet poker legislation in 2015 that establishes a vibrant, competitive marketplace, provides superior consumer protections, and ensures that the state receives a reasonable return.

“We are convinced that the various interests must work together if we are to be successful in establishing a well-regulated environment and the best-in-class Internet poker industry for California.

“Unfortunately, AB 9 is a rehash of previously unsuccessful proposals. Any bill that seeks to establish artificial competitive advantages for some, while denying Californians the best online poker experiences, will only serve to divide the community and will be opposed by our coalition.”

It seems PokerStars and their band of merry Indians have been reading the legislation in the same manner of most of the media. I say most because Online Poker Report scribe, Chris Grove, and the hard-working gang at Pokerfuse, believe that the same piece of legislation also contains a clear path for the return of PokerStars.

“Section 19990.406 ( c )( 7 ) states that the commission shall waive the application of the clause that prohibits the use of covered assets by applicants that purchased or acquired such assets after they were used to offer wagers inside the US post December 31, 2006—if the applicant can show ‘by clear and convincing evidence’ that its involvement with the covered assets did not break any state or federal laws.”

It’s ok PokerStars. Retract that statement. As long as you can prove that you are a good boy everything will be ok.


It’s a good job this is a first draft!

It’s almost as ridiculous as having the ability to play online poker from the sanctity of your own home, but having to traipse to the casino to load up and withdraw from your account.


Haven’t you heard?



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Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.