California Indian Tribes Release Draft of iPoker Bill

May 16, 2013
California Indian Tribes Release Draft of iPoker Bill

Eight of California’s Indian tribes have joined together in an effort to legalize online poker for the state.  On Wednesday, a copy of the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2013 was released and specifically spells out what the Indian tribes in the state want out of online poker legislation.

A cover letter to the bill presented the signatures of the Chairmen for eight tribes.  Most notable was the signature of Mark Macarro, the Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.  Up to this point, the Pechenga had been opposed to online poker.

The bill proposes that online poker be the only form of iGaming allowed in the state.  Furthermore, the bill seeks to limit online poker exclusively to California.  This means that the state would not be free to seek out deals with states such as Nevada, New Jersey, and other states that could legalize the game in the future.  In addition, the bill would require that California opt-out of any federal legislation.

Online poker sites would only be available to tribal governments and existing card rooms within California’s borders.  These establishments must have operated for at least five years prior to the bill’s passage.  In addition, Internet Cafe’s would be banned by this bill.

The bill includes a bad actor clause which bans any entity from being licensed in California if it offered wagering services to California residents post-UIGEA.  The bill also seeks to create a licensing period of 10 years with an automatic 10-year renewal should the company stay in good standing.  In addition, anyone receiving a license will be limited to operating one gaming site. If passed, operator would have the same “go live” date, currently set at January 1, 2015.  This was included to ensure fair competition between tribes and non-tribal card rooms.

An interesting tidbit from this bill gives sites the authority to contact third part subcontractors for marketing, etc.  Further reading this

However, A licensee shall not utilize any brand or business name, (including any derivative brand name with the same or similar wording) trade or service mark, software, technology, operational systems, customer information, or other data acquired, derived, or developed directly or indirectly from any operation that has accepted any wager from persons in California on any form of Internet gaming prior to the date of enactment of the act adding this chapter or that would be otherwise unsuitable pursuant to this chapter. To the extent any business relationships or financial arrangements were utilized or existed to further any such illegal Internet gambling, those relationships and arrangements shall be discontinued.

Besides online gaming operators that accepted bets post-UIGEA, a bevy of related service providers would subsequently be banned.  If you take the bill literally, California companies could not even advertise on certain poker websites or poker publications since they have been contracted by poker companies in the past.

Considering the number of restrictions that this bill places on California iGaming, it is hard to imaging that this bill will receive much traction.  However, if nothing else it is an important first step in working out a bill that will meet the needs of Indian tribes and be feasible for California.

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