California tribes reach consensus on Internet poker legislation

The Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in California. Photo from Twitter

Thirteen California tribes said they reached consensus on legislation to authorize Internet poker games in the state.

The 13 account for less than a quarter of the tribes with casinos. But they represent some of the larger and more successful gaming operations.

"In achieving consensus for Internet poker, we reaffirm our commitment to the longstanding principle of limited gaming that has guided California’s public policy toward gaming,” the tribes said in a letter to state lawmakers, The Los Angeles Times reported. “As importantly, we recommit ourselves to realizing legislation that protects children and the vulnerable, creates jobs for Californians, provides additional revenues for state services, and safeguards consumers and the vulnerable from dishonest and unsuitable operators.”

The tribes that signed the letter include the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. They are supporting the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2014, which restricts online poker to tribes and non-Indian card rooms with existing operations.

Absent from the letter was the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, one of the early proponents of Internet poker. The tribe has partnered with PokerStars, a firm that would be prohibited from doing business in California under the legislation.

PokerStars was shut down in 2011 as part of a settlement with the Obama administration. The firm's involvement has been a source of controversy in California.

“Efforts by a select few interests to rewrite longstanding and effective policy in order to gain a competitive market advantage or to lock out specific companies is not in the best interests of consumers or the state and will be vigorously opposed by our coalition, online poker players and many others,” the Morongo Band and its non-Indian racetrack allies said in a statement, The Palm Springs Desert Sun reported.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 outlaws Internet gaming unless it is conducted pursuant to a Class III gaming compact or under state law.

Get the Story:
13 Calif. tribes reach agreement on Internet poker bill (The Los Angeles Times 6/4)
Unified California tribes’ draft of online poker bill features PokerStars poison pill (Calvin Ayre 6/4)
All but one major California tribe agree on online poker bill (The Sacramento Bee 6/4)
Three Inland Empire tribes back Internet poker bills (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 6/4)

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