Despite making solid headway in the past several months, it appears that California’s online poker legislation is on its way back to the shelf this year.
Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 2863 was expected to be voted on Monday in the California Assembly, but key stakeholder groups—PokerStars,
its tribal allies, and advocacy group Poker Players Alliance, among
others—failed to come together on a final compromise, which led to the
bill being shelved again for another year.
Just like in the past, the sticking point remained to be the
definition of a “bad actor,” or a person or company that would be deemed
unsuitable to participate in the California’s regulated online poker
market. The coalition of hardline tribes led by the Pechanga Band of
Luiseno Indians and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians wanted
these so-called bad actors to be completely excluded from the state’s
market for “ethical reasons.”
The “compromise” version of Gray’s bill stipulated that
PokerStars—clearly the tribes’ prime target—would have to be evaluated
by California’s gaming regulators when it applies for a license instead
of being outright barred via legislation. But the Pechangas and Agua
Calientes managed to force an amendment to AB 2863, which once again
included the bad actor clause.
Under the amendment bill, PokerStars and other operators who accepted
U.S. customers after the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling
Enforcement Act (UIGEA) would be aced out from applying for a gambling
license for five years.
and some of the state’s largest cardrooms have teamed up with
PokerStars to oppose the amendment, which they claimed “arbitrarily and
unfairly bans [PokerStars] from competing in the iPoker market
“These amendments target a single company, Amaya, with provisions
that would prevent the company from ever securing a license,” a
statement from the coalition said, according to eGaming Review.“It
is our understanding amendments were presented to members as imposing a
five year penalty box when in reality these provisions would
effectively create a lifetime ban for Amaya.”
There is still a possibility that AB 2863 could be voted this year,
but that’s still up in the air especially since the California
legislature will adjourn on August 31.
“Another year w/o regulated Online Poker in California,” tweeted
internet poker entrepreneur Alex Dreyfus. “Players want to play, state
wants to be regulated, but parties are fighting. Lose, lose.”