California IPoker Bill Changes Leave PokerStars Out in the Cold

The ongoing battle for a regulated i-poker industry in California took another twist yesterday as some last minute amends seem to have left PokerStars out of the running for at least half a decade, even if bill SB 2863 comes into being.

The major obstacle at the moment to making any sort of real headway with the motion has been the objection of the Pechanga/Agua coalition of Native Indian tribes to the idea of "bad actors" (referring to online poker sites who operated and accepted deposits after December 31st 2006 when the UIGEA came into being) being able to attain licenses to operate within the state.

Last month the tribes proposed some changes to the bill which was looking to issue either a 5 year ban to "bad actors" before they could apply for licenses OR a $20m one off fine. The tribes wanted a 10 year band AND a $60m fine.

It seems now that some amends have been made which may satisfying the tribes which would allow bad actors to apply for licenses after 5 years. The monetary penalty, however, is not clear.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, who is championing the bill, believes that the changes, which also include changing tax on i-poker sites from a sliding scale of 8.64% to 15% based on the annual gross gaming revenue to a flat rate of 10%, will ultimately help the bill secure a two thirds vote in the assembly.

The changes, however, are unlikely to satisfy the likes of PokerStars and its business partners, the Morongo and San Manuel Mission Indians and the Commerce Club, Bicycle Club and Hawaiian Gardens card rooms.

The stage has been set for a possible vote in the state Assembly on Monday from where it would move up to the Senate. Trent Hager, chief of staff for Gray, told the Los Angeles Times thate the bill “will be fairly well received in the Senate.”

PokerStars are already partway through a five year "penalty" in the state of Nevada where i-poker has been regulated since 2013.


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