California Tribes Propose Changes to Online Poker Bill

As the bill to approve and regulate online poker in California gathers pace, there may be some hope that the considerable barrier of tribal disapproval may be coming around - although the proposed changes offered this week are probably not going to please the likes of PokerStars in their current state.

After the bill was voted out of the appropriations committee last week and now heads to the assembly floor, news came from the coalition led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, tribes who until now have flat refused to change their stance on opposing the bill, had some changes they would like to make to the bill in order for them to come on board.

However, the changes are most likely not going to be very attractive to the likes of PokerStars and in their current form seem almost untenable.

The changes apply to the following provisions in bill AB 2863 specifically directed at "bad actors" (sites who operated in the USA post-UIGEA in 2006)

  • Sites would have to wait five years to be licensed in California OR
  • Sites could pay $20 million for the ability to immediately apply.

The tribes would like these stipulations altered to read:

  • Sites would have to wait 10 years to be licensed in California AND
  • Sites would have to pay $60 million to enter the market after the 10 years is up.

Obviously a threefold increase in the price of entry is bad enough, but the real sting in the tail here is the addition of the word "AND", meaning that even if they stumped up the $60m, PokerStars would still have to wait a full decade before entering the market.

As it stands this seems like a no-go but there is hope that now that the tribes have entered into a dialogue where there is potential for progress, it may be that a negotiation between the parties could take place and actually make this thing happen.

We will of course keep you updated with any further progress on the matter.








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