California Tribes Feel Pressure from RAWA

California Tribes Feel Pressure from RAWAThe recent introduction of legislation on the federal level aiming to ban online gambling has created anxiety among California tribes.

The Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) proposed by Rep. Jason Chaffetz earlier this month, if successful, would wipe out online poker and gambling in the three states that have already approved regulation on the state level and launched igaming regimes in 2013. That ban would prohibit other states from regulating as well.

California currently has two online poker bills under consideration. One line of thought centers around the fact that if Golden State lawmakers were to approve one of those bills, it would make it that much more difficult for RAWA to find acceptance among federal legislators.

But progress in California is being held up by three separate factions of seven Indian tribes who remain at loggerheads over whether or not to allow racetracks and PokerStars into the game. Those tribes are now feeling pressure to reach a compromise that would get the regulated online poker ball rolling in California.

That need for compromise was at the center of discussions at the Western Indian Gaming Conference that is currently taking place at Harrah’s Resort in Valley Center, California. This is the 20th consecutive year that the conference has been held and it may be the most important with regard to the future of legalized online poker.

Let’s hope that the tribes can face the truth and accept it. Online poker legislation will not receive the approval of California Governor Jerry Brown if the horse racing industry is not included. Racetracks must get a piece of the pie.

The PokerStars coalition that includes the state’s three largest cardrooms and two of its most powerful tribes also needs a seat at the table or else the ipoker regulation stalemate will continue for who knows how long.

California’s gaming interests must find a way to penalize PokerStars for past wrongs (although no wrongdoing was ever proven in a court of law), yet include them in the state’s ipoker regime. Some kind of monetary fine or a period of time in which PokerStars will have to sit on the rail before being allowed to play.

Surely there must be a way to reach a compromise to counter the attack made by the anti-online gaming forces led by Sheldon Adelson who have again tossed RAWA into the ring.

Online gambling bills have been proposed in California every year since 2009. It’s time to get something done. The tribes realize that, as was acknowledged at the conference. So reach a compromise and just do it already.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett