CA Tribes State Opposition to PokerStars and Racetracks

CA Tribes State Opposition to PokerStars and RacetracksThe stalemate over online poker legislation in California continues as a coalition of tribes stated their formal opposition to an ipoker bill.

Led by the Pechanga and Agua Caliente tribes, a group of six tribes penned a letter to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer that detailed their stance against permitting bad actors and racetracks to be included in an online poker regime in California.

Jones-Sawyer is the sponsor of AB 167, one of four current online poker proposals on the table in California, and a bill that is favorable to both horse racing interests and PokerStars. In the letter sent by the tribal coalition that includes the Barona, Viejas, Lytton and Yocha Dehe tribes, the Indians state their “united opposition” to any legislation that allows bad actors and horsemen.

Less Opposed than in 2014

Last year, a similar letter circulated in which 13 tribes stood firm in opposition to spreading online poker action in the state. That coalition included the six mentioned in the recent letter to Jones-Sawyer, as well as the United Auburn, Rincon, Pala and San Manuel tribes. The latter has since joined forces with PokerStars, the Morongo tribe, and California card clubs, while the other three have formed their own coalition that is accepting of bad actors and horse racing associations.

One can certainly presume that progress has been made since last year as not as many tribes are intent on holding a hard line against the inclusion of other gaming interests. However, the fact that the powerful Agua Caliente and Pechanga tribes remain as holdouts may certainly keep progress from advancing.

If an online poker bill that does not include racetracks ever reaches the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, he has indicated that he won’t sign it. Knowing that, it is difficult to see how tribes that are hopeful for online poker regulation to come into play remain insistent on exclusion rather than inclusion.

Prediction Seemingly Incorrect

Heading into 2015, many had hoped that California would finally pass ipoker legislation this year after many years of trying. In fact, last September, Morgan Stanley published a report that predicted California to be the only state that would do so in 2015. From the tone of the most recent letter and reports emanating from the various gaming interests involved, the Golden State remains far from proving Morgan Stanley to be correct in their forecast.

Unfortunately, the deadlock in California continues with no signs of compromise ahead. The Pechanga and Agua Caliente coalition appear to be in favor of no online poker regulation rather than a bill that allows parties to participate that it wants to keep out.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett