Those battling to legalize poker in California are rallying behind AB2863, a bill submitted by Assemblyman Adam Gray. The bill, which would give California’s horse racing tracks a share of the online revenue (as opposed to giving them licenses to operate online poker rooms), is being supported by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) and a host of other Indian groups.
“We are supportive of Assemblyman Adam Gray’s efforts to allow gaming Tribes the option to adapt to the changing technology,” CNIGA Chairman Steve Stallings said in Indian Country Today. “CNIGA looks forward to working with the legislature to ensure meaningful legislation is passed.”
Under AB2863, $60 million in online gambling revenue would be shipped annually to the state’s horse racing industry.
In total, the bill has received three letters of support since it was first proposed. In addition to the CNIGA, the PokerStars Coalition and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians have given in their blessing. (The PokerStars Coalition includes the United Auburn Indian Community, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the United Auburn Indian Community, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens Casino.) The statement of support was also the first time the United Auburn Indian Community announced it would join the coalition.
“After eight years of discussion, very few issues remain outstanding … We are optimistic that by working together we can get an iPoker bill passed this year,” San Manuel chairwoman Lynn Valbuena said in the statement.
Efforts to legalize online gambling in California have been ongoing since 2008. Last year, four bills similar to AB2863 were presented by four different Assemblyman (including Gray), but none came close to being passed into law. The state’s successful horse racing industry has proven to be a wrench in the works; the industry is keen to benefit from any online poker legalization.
PokerStars, itself, has been another roadblock. It’s unclear how the online giant would fit into the regulatory scheme. In 2011, PokerStars was banished from the U.S. for allegedly providing online poker options to Americans even after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed. Some of the proposed bills have suggested that the company would be allowed to apply for a license once online poker was legalized.
Involved parties that support the bill are split into two groups regarding the PokerStars debate. One says forgive and forget, while the other says all bills need to include a “bad actors” provision that bans all companies that operated post-UIGEA from the state.
AB2863 does not include a “bad actors” clause, nor does it provide a comprehensive overview of how exactly online poker would be regulated.
Since online poker was made illegal in the US, many Americans have continued to play through off-shore sites. If AB2863 passes, playing on offshore sites would be a felony offense.
If the bill makes it past the governor’s desk, operators will be able to receive a license in one calendar year. But, before it ever reaches the governor, it still needs two-thirds support in the state assembly and then to pass the state senate.
(Photo credit: torbakhopper, Creative Commons.)
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