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Will Local Politics Kill Momentum For Online Gambling Legalization?

Added: Sept. 26, 2016

This being the season of politics at both the federal and state levels, perhaps it is not so surprising to learn that what looked to be a sure thing only a few short months ago now looks to be on the edge of failing. And worse still, failing not so much for vehement opposition from one side or the other but from a lack of action.

This is all taking place in the state of California. You might well recall that California was taking decisive steps to legalize online poker. Truth be told, for a good part of this legislative session all signs seemed to point to a fairly straightforward passage all the way through. Alas, not so much.

Here’s what is going on. It turns out that there are a number of disagreements between the various tribes in the state of California. These tribes cannot seem to arrive at a common agreement amongst themselves. Here is a brief overview of the dispute. There are a few tribes that insist that ONLY they should have the ability to offer online poker gaming. Representatives from these tribes are quick to point to their Class III gaming compact. This gaming compact would seem to give these tribes exclusive right to such online casino games.

Yet another point of contention is that a few of the California tribes are insisting that any online poker legislation must include so-called ‘bad actor’ language. As it stands now, if this language is included, the consequence would be the exclusion of such popular online poker venues as PokerStars. More specifically, as worded in bill AB 2863, groups such as PokerStars would be banned from offering online poker services for no less than 5 years.

Yet at the same time, other tribes wanted no part of this defacto ban. Interestingly, the tribes that are against the bad actor language have also already established partnerships with Amaya Gaming. This makes perfect sense when you take note of the fact that Amaya Gaming is in fact the owner of the PokerStars brand.

So where does this leave online poker legalization in California? As of this writing, online poker is at a standstill. Unless and until the various California tribes can come to some sort of working agreement amongst themselves, the fate of legalized online poker is on hold. You can readily understand that California legislators are not so willing to move forward with any new online poker bill until this issue is settled.