California’s major Native Indian tribes, which operate brick-and-mortar casinos, announced recently that they had agreed on the draft of a bill that would legalize Internet poker in America’s biggest state.

A group of 13 tribal representatives wrote a letter to Reginald Jones-Sawyer, the assemblyman, and Senator Lou Correa, who had drafted online poker bills that won the approval of most of the influential tribes in the state. They had stated in their letter that they had resolved all their differences and had come to an agreement.

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In their letter, the tribal leaders stated: “As you know, this journey has been long and difficult, but the challenges posed by the Internet demand that we harness rather than cede the technology of the future for California and for our tribal communities.” They stated that, in reaching an agreement regarding the online poker bill, they re-affirm their “commitment to the longstanding principle of limited gaming that has guided California’s public policy toward gaming.”

Interestingly, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, a Native Indian tribe from Riverside, is not one of those who have written the above-mentioned letter. Recently, the Morongo Band, along with a few influential poker clubs in California, signed a deal with PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker room.

The draft bill that the other tribes have agreed upon contains a bad actor clause, which would prevent PokerStars from getting a license in California. Bad actor clauses include language, which states that online poker sites that continued accepting US players even after the passage of the UIGEA in 2006 should not be given licenses for a specific period of time. While some critics feel that PokerStars is guilty of violating US gambling laws, the Morongo Band and others in the coalition refuse to accept it.

The coalition that supports PokerStars recently stated that some interests are making efforts to rewrite policies to gain market advantage by blocking certain companies. It also stated that it will continue to oppose these efforts as they will benefit neither the state of California nor its consumers.

Last month, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians had said that gambling regulators should decide about bad actors and that they should not be included into bills.

Influential casino businessman Sheldon Adelson is also sure to oppose California’s online poker bill as he is strongly against online poker legalization in the country. Adelson also has the support of Willie Brown, former speaker of the assembly.

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