California’s online poker stakeholders moved a little closer to consensus this week after three of the state’s tribes and casino operator Caesars Entertainment voiced softer stances on so-called ‘bad actors’.
Pechanga.net writer Dave Palermo obtained a letter written by the three tribes – the Rincon and Pala Bands of Luiseño Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community – to Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Mike Gatto, the authors, respectively, of the state’s two current online poker bills, AB 167 and AB 9.
The letter (read it here) paints its authors as online poker Rodney Kings, wondering why we can’t all get along. The tribes say they now support AB 167’s inclusion of state racetracks as eligible online poker operators along with federally recognized tribes and state cardrooms.
The letter also says ‘bad actors’ – which refers generally to operators who continued to take wagers from Californians after Dec. 31, 2006 but is primarily aimed at online poker titan PokerStars – should be redefined in terms of “personal participation in unauthorized gaming.”
The letter’s authors say they recognize that “control of an entity may change over time in a way that resolves regulatory concerns.” Such a view would seem to offer hope for Amaya Gaming, which purchased PokerStars last June from those nefarious Scheinberg fellows.
But Amaya isn’t quite off the hook. The letter’s authors say they “have not yet identified a possible consensus position” on so-called covered assets, i.e. the software, database, trademarks, etc. “developed through unauthorized internet gaming.” The tribes want to develop a position “based on considerations of fairness, regulatory integrity and legal requirements at issue.” So Amaya can operate online poker in California, but they might have to buy back the Ongame software they just sold to NYX.
The letter is a stark turnaround for the three tribes, who were among the 13 tribes who supported a 2014 bill that would have expressly kept PokerStars out of the market. In November, another member of those 13, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, defected to the other side, i.e. the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and three of the state’s largest card clubs, who have inked a technology deal with PokerStars.