Tribal coalition hits out at California online poker bill

13 March 2015

A Native American tribal coalition spearheaded by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians has criticised a new online poker bill that has been introduced in the US state of California.

As reported by iGaming Business, online poker bill AB 167 was put forward in the state in January by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer.

Under the bill, licensed operators would run player verification similar to other licensed locales while all players must be located in California and be at least 21 years of age.

However, the bill, which also sets out plans for renewable four-year licensing terms with a $10 million (€9.4m million) fee, does not contain a so-called ‘bad actor’ clause, leaving the task of determining the suitability of operators to offer online poker in California in the hands of the state’s own regulatory body.

In response, the tribal coalition has written to Jones-Sawyer and key members of the California legislature to voice its opposition of the bill.

The lengthy letter, which has also been signed by five other chiefs alongside Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro, criticises several aspects of the bill, including the decision to omit a bad-actor clause.

“The Tribal Governments shown on this letter write to advise you of our united opposition to your Assembly Bill 167 and any legislation that would expand the scope of gaming in California to grant internet poker licences to horse racing associations or which would ease regulatory standards to accommodate actors whose past behaviour and tainted brands and assets would erode the integrity of intrastate internet poker under consideration,” the letter said.

“The citizens of California deserve protection from bad actors. The language proposed in AB 167 is not sufficient to protect the integrity of the California market.

“As proposed, AB 167 provides no such protection, and instead would reward those gaming corporations that acted inconsistent with federal law and the letter of California law by authorising them to use the fruits of their illegal conduct to obtain a license in California.

“It bears emphasis that the tribes working with you on AB 167 were ALL formally and publicly in favour of the inclusion of a bad actor clause in internet poker legislation until they entered into a business relationship with one of those presumed violators, and its successor corporation.

“Respectfully, we urge you not to pursue AB 167, or any similar measure, which, for the reasons referenced above, is in our view fatally flawed.”

Related article: Second online poker bill introduced in California