California Tribes Ally Against Bad Actors

California Tribes Ally Against Bad ActorsCalifornia Indian tribes have been divided on the particulars of online poker legislation except when it comes to keeping certain gaming interests out.

In a show of unity that has been somewhat uncharacteristic of the tribes with regard to online gambling legislation, a dozen tribal leaders have signed a Joint Tribal Statement to exclude so-called “bad actors” from participating in the state’s possible online poker scheme.

The statement is aimed specifically at PokerStars, who have been negotiating with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and several card clubs in the hopes of offering online poker once regulation is approved. The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA) expressed their disapproval of such a partnership a few days ago and more tribes have now followed suit.

Concerned that the easing of regulatory standards might allow bad actors who continued to operate in the U.S. following the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 to become associated with California intrastate Internet poker, the tribes claim such an occurence would erode the integrity of the state’s potential regime.

Two online poker bills are currently pending in the state legislature and both include bad actor clauses. Sen. Lou Correa has introduced SB 1366 with the backing of the United Auburn Indian Community and the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians. Both of those tribes are included in the dozen who signed on in support of the Joint Tribal Statement on iPoker Bad Actors.

Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer is the author of AB 2291 and his proposal is supported by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuila Indians. The leaders of those tribes also are behind the new group that is offended by PokerStars’ attempt to enter the market.

The CTBA, whose membership consists of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, the Pala Band of Luiseño Indians, and the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, said earlier this week through chairman Leslie Lohse that they will strongly oppose any legislation which allows PokerStars to participate. Those three tribes, too, are included in the Joint Tribal Statement.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians, Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians, and the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation are the remaining tribes that also support the exclusion of bad actors.

Most California tribes have long been in favor of excluding the state’s horse racing interests in any online poker scheme. That has typically been one of the lone issues collectively agreed upon among tribal concerns. Both legislative proposals on the table, SB 1366 and AB 2291, do not permit horsemen to operate online poker sites.

As many are aware, California is the most populous state in the nation and one which all other states that have enacted or are considering online poker legislation would surely welcome in any interstate partnership. However, that appears to not be in the cards as California is seemingly content with only an intrastate online poker regime.

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Jacqueline Packett