Despite renewed promise every year, legalizing online poker has stalled in California several times over the inability of all sides to compromise. But a recent report suggests that major progress has been made towards legal California online poker in 2016.
The breakthrough appears to be due to daily fantasy sports (DFS). The “Pechanga Coalition” – a group of nine tribes that don’t want race tracks or PokerStars involved in the iPoker market – wrote a letter to State Assemblyman Adam Gray advising that DFS, in its current form, is illegal. So they propose that DFS and iPoker be legalized together, allowing operators to run both types of gaming.
In the past, the Pechanga Coalition has argued that race tracks don’t have anything to do with poker, so they shouldn’t be allowed to offer the game online. Additionally, they believe that since PokerStars violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) they too should be left out of the market.
But according to San Diego’s 10News, the “tribes intend to use DFS as leverage, hoping that by passing both poker and DFS legislation, each party will finally feel they’re getting something out of a deal.”
The two biggest hurdles remain the race tracks and PokerStars, although both of these issues could be soon cleared up. Race tracks may be opening up more to the idea of accepting annual affiliate payments from tribes, instead of launching their own poker sites. Meanwhile, Stars, which has been called a “bad actor” by some tribes – despite having the support of in-state cardrooms and several other tribes – will soon launch in New Jersey. So the Pechanga Coalition may be giving up on the idea that Stars is a bad actor since they are already legal in one U.S. state.
Only time will tell if California is truly ready to compromise and legalize iPoker. However, all sides could finally be closer than ever before on the issue.