California still arguing about Online Poker “Bad Actors”

California’s 13 Indian tribes have come to an agreement on one thing: they all want online poker. However, the tribes are widely split on whether to involve “bad actors” like PokerStars in the market.

A proposed online poker bill would exclude PokerStars and any other site that operated in the US legal market after the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was approved. Many of the state’s tribes are behind this legislation. However, PokerStars, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, and three prominent California card clubs are staunchly opposed to the current bill.

Limiting the Competition

The alleged motivation behind current internet poker legislation is that bad actor language punishes sites that operated illegally in the United States. However, Robert Martin, the Chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, thinks that there’s a different agenda behind the bill. Through a recent statement, Martin wrote the following:

We strongly oppose the so-called ‘bad actor’ language that is nothing other than a blatant attempt to provide certain interests with an unfair competitive advantage by arbitrarily locking out trusted (internet poker) brands. We will vigorously oppose any legislation that includes this language.

Let the Regulators decide

Instead of letting Indian tribes decide on who gets in and who’s locked out of California’s poker market, PokerStars believes that the state gaming regulators should decide their fate. Here’s a look at their statement:

We believe the job of determining suitability should be left with the existing regulators – the CA Gambling Control Commission and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Gambling Control, using the Gambling Control Act’s existing standards that these regulators have been successfully applying for many years.

The one thing that’s clear from all of this is that nothing is clear from a legislation perspective. The PokerStars group is likely right in their assessment of other tribes wanting them omitted to decrease competition. So for now, it looks like things will remain in a standstill until the tribes can figure out what to do about Stars.

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