The iPoker bill in California has continued to go back and forth over the past few years and as of now the main hurdle in passing the bill comes from the Pechanga coalition. The coalition is represented by seven tribes which includes the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Agua Caliente Band of Chuilla Indians, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Barona Band of Mission Indians, Table Mountain Rancheria, Lytton Band of Pomo Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.
Assemblyman Adam Gray who introduced the bill has continued to push for the bill to be passed has received support from 15 cards rooms in the state, six tribes and just about the entire horse betting industry but the opposition from the Penchanga coalition could very well delay the passing of the online poker bill for another year or so. The coalition is not happy with the current language outlined in Gray’s bill as it feels that the bill favours PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world.
The coalition has sent across a letter to Assemblyman Gray clearly outlining their objections to the iPoker bill and what they require for them to withdraw their opposition and support the bill. The Penchanga coalition believes that PokerStars will have an unfair advantage over its competition due to the fact that the online poker giant had continued to operate in California even when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed. The coalition states that during this time PokerStars had full access to the online poker market, built a large database and added significant value to its brand image.
To even the playing field, the coalition wants PokerStars to be banned for a period of 10 years once online gambling is regulated in California. Once the 10 year period is over, PokerStars must be willing to pay a fine of $60 million and only then apply for an online poker license.
The letter to Gray said “Not all members of the coalition are moved to compromise and depart from the longstanding principle of disqualifying offshore websites and assets that took illegal bets. Accordingly, if these proposed amendments are rejected, we anticipate some will seek what they believe to be more appropriate protections for Californians — a ban on ‘bad actors’ and ‘tainted assets’ in the internet poker industry.”
Assemblyman Gray is yet to respond to the letter but it is highly unlikely that he will concede to all the demands of the coalition without further negotiation.