The PokerStarts Coalition released a statement on Wednesday, declaring their support for the latest assembly bill, AB2863, which aims to regulate online poker in the state of California, sponsored by Assemblyman Adam Gray and Reggie Jones-Sawyer.
The legislative bill has already received a lot of support from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) and theRincon Band of Luiseño Indians.
PokerStars Coalition, also known as Californians for Responsible iPoker, is an online poker advocacy group which was formed by Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars and its Californian brick-and-mortar partners.
Support for the bill from the coalition was expected but the statement disclosed that the United Auburn Indian Community, which was part of the Pechanga Coalition in 2014 and opposed to the PokerStars has changed their alliance and has joined their formal opposition; this has been the third coalition the UAIC have pledged their alliance to over the course of the last year. They were a part of the Rincon, Auburn, Pala (RAP) coalition, in 2015, who shared a similar stance to that of PokerStars towards bad actor clauses and the racing industry.
The United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC) is a federally recognized Native America tribe mainly consisting of Miwok and Maidu Indians, indigenous to the Sacramento Valley region. The Auburn Rancheria is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auburn, in Placer County, California.
The full coalition now includes:
- Amaya Gamingand their 2014 acquisition, PokerStars, the largest online poker cardroom in the world.
- The United Auburn Indian Community (UAIC), a federally recognized Native America tribemainly consisting of 170 Miwok and Maidu Indians, indigenous to the Sacramento Valley The Auburn Rancheria is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auburn, in Placer County, California.
- The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, another federally recognised tribe consisting of the tribal groups Cahuilla, Serrano, Cupeño, Luiseño and Chemehuevi The Morongo Reservation is located in Riverside County, California
- The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the third federally recognized tribe, consisting of the Yuhaviatam clan of Serrano people from San Bernardino County, California who have traditionally lived in the San Bernardino Mountains.
- Commerce Casino,the largest brick-and-mortar cardroom in the world, established in 1983, is located in the LA suburb of Commerce.
- Bicycle Casino, the second largest poker cardroom in California, established in 1984 and is located in Bell Gardens, California.
- Hawaiian Gardens Casino, located in the smallest city in the county of LA, California, is one of their largest employers.
Pokerstars Coalition statement
The PokerStars Coalition statement said that the coalition is wholeheartedly in support of the iPoker regulation bill – AB 2863. Assemblyman, Adam Gray, has written the bill in an attempt to resolve the long standing setbacks facing this legislature. In a meeting held on 11 Friday 2016, Gray and Linder and tribal leaders from both sides of the iPoker debate decided to move ahead with the legislation.
San Manuel chairwoman Lynn Valbuena expressed her optimism towards the passage of the bill. Morongo Tribal Chairman, Robert Martin, praised the effort of the assemblymen in trying to reach a consensus amongst tribal stakeholders with varying views through transparent discussions. All members are excited about establishing a competitive framework for the marketplace through this piece of legislature by the end of this year.
In early 2015, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the UAIC left the Pechanga Coalition and formed the Rincon, Auburn, Pala (RAP) coalition.
The UAIC, when no longer tied in a contract with Bwin.party, as a result of its acquisition by GVC holdings, most likely took advantage of the loophole and decided to join PokerStars.
The Rincon Casino is run by Caesars Entertainment Corporation, therefore, are expected to use online poker brand WSOP.com, powered by software from 888 for their site in California. Pala already has their own online poker software, operational under Bogarta in New Jersey; thus, making it unlikely that either will follow suit with UAIC change alliances.
Over the last couple of years, there is has been a stir in allegiances in California’s online Poker Industry. San Manuel Rincon, United Auburn and Pala, along with Caesars Entertainment have dropped their support of strict bad actor language; therefore support towards the Pechanga Coalition.
Despite these movements, Pechanga remains powerful; passage of any online poker bill requires a two-thirds vote in both houses; Pechanga still has at least five allies; six tribal chair signatures were on their latest letter, dated 12 February, 2016:
- Jeff Grubbe; of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
- Clifford LaChappa; of the Barona Band of Mission Indians
- Margie Mejia; of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians
- Mark Macarro; of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians
- Robert Welch; of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
- Leland Kinter;of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.
As a result, any power struggles between the PokerStars Coalition and Pechanga Coalition is expected to be fruitless for PokerStars.
Assembly Bill, AB 2863, seeks to authorize and regulate internet poker in the state of California. The new bill, if approved would establish a regulatory framework for iPoker in the state, provide better consumer protection by introducing stricter standards for fairness. They also plan to safeguard ipoker from underage or problem gamblers, while generating funds that can be channelled into horse tracks and last but not least, produce and income for the state.
Besides the growing PokerStars Coalition, over 10,000 Californian citizens have signed up and are waiting for the internet poker legislation to pass.