Thursday, August 22, 2013

Correa Amends California Online Poker Bill, Adds 'Urgency' Provision, Bill Stalls

In yet another go-round for California online poker prospects, State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) has again modified his bill, one of two under consideration in California that seeks to authorize intrastate (within state) online poker offerings for the state's players.

However, prospects were dim for the outset, because it would have had to have been considered before the end of the state's current legislative session in less than three weeks.  Opponents immediately declared that the bill had little chance, and earlier today, the Poker Players Alliance posted on Twitter that the bill wouldn't move: "Update CA: sources confirm that amended Correa bill will not be brought up b4 end of session. work on iPoker to continue over Fall recess."

Correa's proposed S.B. 678, the Internet Poker Consumer Act of 2013, was an attempt to appease some of the conflicting demands among the state's powerful tribal-casino coalitions, which have succeeded in setting back California's online-poker prospects by several years as they continue to participate in turf wars.

This latest news byte indicated more of the same.  The bill's modifications appeared to be minor, which in addition to the reaffirmation of the "urgency" declaration (which also meant the bill required two-thirds approval during voting), an expansion of the bill's general descriptions, and the inclusion of severability clauses to the bill's inclusions, really wasn't much.

Correa, who has had the backing of several of the state's Mission Indian tribes, included language here that included existing non-tribal card rooms among the "eligible entities" for licensure.  However, the hard-line California Tribal Business Alliance, which is continuing an otherwise unpopular tribes-only strategy for the state, immediately signaled it wouldn't go along with Correa's latest effort.  Said the CTBA's spokesman, David Quintana, “That bill is not going to move.”

And so it hasn't, with the the greediest factions involved continuing to spite themselves, and all the online-poker bills (including Correa's) moving nowhere as a result.  In a way, the stance of the CTBA can be seen as a delaying strategy; the longer they can block all relevant legislation, the longer they can attempt to force poker players to play only at the state's land-based tribal casinos.  That strategy has been employed in other states as well, the extreme outlier being in Washington, where the playing of online poker remains a felony while the state's tribal casinos deal away.

The Cali tribes involved in the blockade believe that by denying the state's poker-playing public what they want, all the opposition will eventually cave, and they'll get all their demands -- exclusivity (unwise), sovereignty (ridiculous), and sweet taxation rates to boot.

Maybe, in that light, it's better if the state never gets online poker approved and regulated.  Offshore options remain, and they're slowly gaining strength in the wake of the 2011 DOJ opinion regarding online poker's legality.

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