California iGaming Week in Review: PokerStars and Morongo Respond

What a difference a week can make. Last week, we appeared to be moving closer to a potential compromise. This week we have two sides digging their heels in the ground and not willing to move an inch in the other direction over a single issue – an issue that has the capability of derailing the entire process. It’s not only a matter of PokerStars and their allies between the opposition group of tribes disagreeing on the issue of a “Bad Actor” Clause, it’s that both sides have taken the polar opposite view. Thus, effectively announcing that if they don’t get their way there won’t be a poker bill in 2014. Unfortunately, both sides can’t get their way, so it’s either compromise or kill the bill at this point. In the week’s installment of the California iGaming Review we’ll take a look at the positions both sides have staked out this past week and what it might mean for California’s unborn online poker industry. Coalition of Tribes Draw Bad Actor Line in the Sand 12 of the most powerful tribal factions in California have come together on what they are terming a “unified” online poker bill which they hope will displace the current duo of bills, which presently sit in the state assembly and state senate. The unified bill calls for several non-contentious changes / clarifications, including the number of skins a license will be allowed to launch and the tax rate and licensing fee. The bill also clearly defines who the tribes feel should be allowed to launch online gambling platforms, which boils down to if a tribe or card room casino currently offers poker. This policy will likely foster some opposition from smaller, non-poker, casinos as well as the racing industry, but is not seen as a major obstacle as the political clout of these groups is minimal. However, there is another contentious aspect to the newly proposed bill, the so-called “Bad Actor” Clause designed to keep PokerStars out of the market. The language in the bill is extremely clear on this matter and even goes so far as to propose a “poison pill” strategy should PokerStars and their allies make good on their threat to legally challenge such a clause – if the Bad Actor language is stricken from the bill the bill is null and void according to the poison pill clause as it is being called. Obviously this has created quite a convoluted situation, which we at have tried to make sense in the following articles: All Tribes But One Agree on New California Online Poker Bill
Is California’s New Bill the End of Online Poker Talk in 2014?
A look at California online poker with and without PokerStars
PokerStars and Others Respond While this “consensus” sounds pretty set in stone, there is a missing element, which is the PokerStars aligned Morongo Band of Mission Indians and of course the trio of card rooms that have also entered into an agreement with PokerStars, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, and Hawaiian Gardens. After a short statement when the “unified bill” was first announced, the PokerStars faction formulated a detailed response, which they sent out on Thursday. This proposal comprised of nine bullet point rebuttals. Here is the complete response from PokerStars and their California allies: California iGaming Barometer The battle between these two factions has a 2014 online poker bill looking far more unrealistic than it did just a week ago. If this was a real barometer let’s just say that a severe low pressure system would be moving in, and the only real hope is a last minute change of course that sends it back out over the water leaving the coast with just a few showers. We’ll see what happens if and when the new bill is introduced, and of course there is a proposed hearing scheduled for this month. Previous Post Next Post bike|commerce|hawaiian gardens|morongo|pokerstars About Steve Ruddock Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

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