‘Bad actor’ PokerStars faces five-year California ban

19 August 2016

PokerStars is set to be banned from California for a further five years beyond the legalisation of online poker under an amended bill that could be voted on as soon as next week.

A ‘bad actor’ clause has been added to Assemblyman Adam Gray's AB 2863 legislation in a bid to garner the support of a group of Native American casino operators who have long opposed the measure. The clause would see companies that operated in the US illegally after 2006, including PokerStars - the world’s biggest online poker site - barred from California for five years beyond the launch of a licensed regime.

The bill is due to be considered by the Assembly on Monday, and could then be agreed by the Senate before the end of August.

Various reports suggest the amendment means the bill is now supported by at least 10 tribal groups, including seven tribes led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and three other tribes active in lobbying the issue.

The bill is also being amended to change the tax rate for online poker sites from a sliding scale of 8.6% to 15% based on the annual gross gaming revenue to a flat rate of 10%.

The amendment is opposed by a coalition that includes PokerStars’ owner Amaya, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and three major card clubs.

In a letter to Assemblymen they said the updated bill "raises constitutional questions that will likely result in litigation and prevent implementation of crucial consumer protections while California forgoes hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for schools, public safety and other priorities”.

Related article: California online poker bill set for further changes