California tribes remain divided on efforts to legalize online poker

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians owns and operates the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, California. Photo from Facebook

Efforts to legalize online poker games remain mired in political disputes, with disagreements among tribes contributing to the impasse.

Some of the more the wealthy and politically active tribes are trying to keep PokerStars, a company that paid a multi-million dollar settlement with the Obama administration, from doing business in the state. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians are leaders in this camp, The Palm Springs Desert Sun reported.

But other connected tribes are working with the company that purchased PokerStars, and oppose legislation that would penalize their efforts. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians are part of this group, according to the paper.

The division is frustrating to Steve Stallings, the chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. Without an agreement among tribes, he said online poker bills will continue to be "passed over," the paper reported.

Politicians, on the other hand, seem to be benefiting from the impasse. The Morongo Band, the San Manuel Band and two other tribes donated $90,000 to Assemblyman Adam Gray (D), who has introduced an online poker bill, the paper reported.

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Online poker is pitting Southern California tribal political power against itself (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 7/15)

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