Tribal coalition urges California to reject Jones-Sawyer’s online poker bill

Tribal coalition urges California to reject Jones-Sawyer’s online poker bill

Friday, March 13, 2015 Totally Gaming

A Native American tribal coalition has written to key members of the California legislature urging them to reject a new online poker bill that has been introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, as the topic of the US state’s internet gambling regulatory outlook hots up.

Put forward at the end of January, bill AB 167 would legalise online poker for players located in California of at least 21 years of age. The bill is the second to have been introduced during the current session following Mike Gatto’s AB 167 that was submitted late last year.

Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167 includes plans for renewable four-year licensing terms with a $10m (€9.4m) fee. However, the bill would not include a bad actor clause, which would allow operators that were offering online gaming services illegally in California after December 31, 2006, to apply for a licence in the state.

The lack of this clause is one of the key points referred to in the tribal coalition’s letter, which has also been sent to Jones-Sawyer. The coalition is headed up by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, but the letter has also been signed by five chiefs from other tribes. 

“The citizens of California deserve protection from bad actors,” the letter said. “The language proposed in AB 167 is not sufficient to protect the integrity of the California market.”

The topic of online gambling legislation in California is set to be a key discussion point at GiGse in San Francisco next month (from April 20-22), Richard Schuetz, the Commissioner of the California Gambling Control Commission, has told TotallyGaming.com.

Schuetz, who will speak on an Open Space discussion about ‘Regulation, Policy & Public Awareness’ at GiGse at the Hyatt Regency, acknowledges a “diversity of opinion” over how to introduce online gambling legislation in the state.

“There appears to a diversity of opinion on how to best craft an iGaming bill among the many stakeholders within the state,” Schuetz told TotallyGaming.com.

“Until this diversity becomes consensus, it appears that achieving the necessary two-thirds vote of the legislature is going to be an uphill struggle. At this point in time, the lines being drawn appear quite significant, and no-one is giving a hint that they are anxious to blink.

“Essentially, the vast majority of analysts and writers in this space seem to believe that there is rough sledding ahead in iPoker’s future in this state, and I see no reason at this point in time to question or challenge these conclusions.

“As a commissioner, it really isn’t my role to be either for or against legalisation.

“If it is the will of two-thirds of the legislators, and the governor, to offer iPoker in the state of California, then the commission will work to ensure that the plan is executed to the best of our abilities.”

Visit www.gigse.com for more information about the event.

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