A California bill sits untouched in the state legislature. It sounds like a sad story, and it is.
Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer introduced AB.1677 in February, and for the tenth year in a row, it looks like the various interests are stuck at an impasse before the bill can even go to the House or Senate for a vote. Without a resolution, lawmakers have few options.
In past years, some of the hurdles to legalizing online poker have been resolved, such as the objection by the horse racing industry. But one big obstacle remains, and that is the decision as to whether or not to allow the participation of bad actors – online poker operators who continued to serve United States customers after the 2006 UIGEA became law. Technically, the only company that matches that description is PokerStars.
The bad actor (or suitability) problem in California seems to have no room for compromise. Those siding with PokerStars refuse to budge, and the Native American tribes opposed to a predicted PokerStars monopoly are standing their ground.
But there are some ways to end the debate, and I urge the California debate participants to pick one.
It’s all about the poker, and everyone wants it. Each side of the debate picks one person to represent them in a heads-up poker game, and they play it out on the floor of the California legislature. While other legislators discuss water conservation, marijuana, and healthcare, the two sides of the online poker battle play a best-of-three heads-up game to determine the winner.
The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will oversee the matches, set the rules, and ensure everything takes place within the borders of California. In addition to geolocation and player identification, the DGE will also hire Matt Savage to call the game, obviously.
California Legislation NLHE Championship Challenge
A statewide tournament will allow the ultimate winner to decide if California gets legal online poker. The action will start with satellites at every casino and cardroom with a stake in the legislative battle, and there will be online poker satellites on PokerStars… oh, never mind the online part. Satellite winners will then gather at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles because it’s the card room in the world, and the tournament will play out from there with Matt Savage as the tournament director.
The winner will then decide if PokerStars can operate in California and under what conditions. Both sides will be able to lobby the players at the final table and patch them up, but the winner can change his or her mind when the tournament concludes. Talk about suspense!
Spin & Go, Cali Style
PokerStars will host a special live version lottery-style sit-n-go in the form of its signature Spin & Go tournament. Everyone who wants to play can buy-in with his or her opinion on the issue, and when the event is over in five minutes or less, the winner will then be the determining factor about California online poker suitability. Wheee!
Native American Knowledge
Native American tribes have not had it easy in America. The opinions about everything – including online poker – are shaped by their history and experiences. In order to understand their concerns and fears about online poker and the potential for a PokerStars monopoly, it is important that all parties involved in the debate comprehend their history.
Since American schools tend not to teach a lot of true Native American history, the tribal leaders should generate the quiz questions and answers. All lawmakers, lobbyists, and PokerStars employees will then take the test and receive their scores. If they fail, the tribes must decide the suitability argument amongst themselves with no outside influence. If the test-takers pass, they can then decide if they really want to impose their views on the tribes and if they can do so without guilt or shame.
Freeway Endurance Test
All parties involved in the California online poker debate will have to journey to Sacramento in Northern California by driving to it on the state’s most populated freeways. Starting in San Diego during the morning rush hour, they will each drive up the state via the 5 and 405 freeways, including important detours on the 10 and 101 for kicks. The first person to make it to the state capital without harming anyone in the process wins the opportunity to make the final decision.
Good luck, California!