California’s Poker Debate Continues As Tribes Soften Stance

CaliforniaOnline poker analysts predicted at the start of 2014 that the state of California would legalize online poker by 2015. Mike Gatto, the California Assemblyman has done his best to push for the legalization of online poker by introducing a new bill the AB 9 but after a lot of debate legislators decided not to approve the bill for now.

The bill had a number of proposals that many poker groups found extremely harsh and hence not everyone supported the bill. A number of tribes in California could not agree on the bad actor clause which proposed harsh punishments for online gambling companies that operated without a license and for online gamblers who took part in illegal online gambling activities.

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer who had earlier submitted bill AB 167 for approval and Mike Gatto accepted the feedback from California’s poker community and believe there was room to review and amend these clauses to ensure that the online poker bill got more support before submitting it for further review.

Three tribes in California have recently confirmed that they have changed their stance on the bad actor clause and would now support the bill. The United Auburn Indian Community which partners with Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Caesar Interactive Entertainment’s current land-based partner in California, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians have joined forces and sent in a letter to confirm their new stance on the bad actor clause.

The letter said

We suggest an approach that looks specifically at personal participation in unauthorized gaming. Under this approach, those persons with control over a licensed operator, service provider, or marketing affiliate could not include any person who has personally participated in unauthorized gaming. If a company that engaged in unauthorized gaming changed ownership, regulators would be able to review the effect of that change in ownership under the bill’s standards

This change of stance by these three tribes appear to be a good thing for online poker in California but industry analysts say that this new stance could actually cause more damage as it will create a division amongst the remaining tribes who might harden the stance on the bad actor clause. Mike Gatto believes that it is highly unlikely that California will legalize online poker in 2015 but continues to remain optimistic about 2016.