The California Assembly approved a 23-page amendment package to online poker legislation on Thursday. But the amendments weren’t popular with everyone.
A quick look at the amended online poker bill
The amendments included a change to the suitability language contained in the bill from Assemblymember Adam Gray — AB 2863. It included a “bad actor” clause that would keep PokerStars out of the market for a period of at least five years.
California I Poker Amendments as adopted today. Time out changed from 5 years to January 1, 2022. https://t.co/6wihewCO8p
— David Fried (@calgaminglaw) August 18, 2016
There are also rumors the Assembly could bring the bill to the floor this Monday, but this could prove problematic. Growing opposition to the amended bill could cause the bill to be pulled if the bad actor clause is in fact the proverbial poison pill many believe it to be.
AB 2863 amendments approved in voice vote. Possible floor vote on Monday. New letter from Stars & co opposing: https://t.co/iBz0fRU2Kn
— Chris Grove (@OPReport) August 18, 2016
Similar efforts to push a bill through over an opposing coalition’s objections proved unsuccessful at the end of June, and once again last week.
To get caught up this fast moving development, or for a complete breakdown of the newly amended AB 2863 and how it will impact the online poker debate in California, you can read this article posted on Thursday.
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PokerStars coalition opposes amendments
To no one’s surprise, a coalition including the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Bicycle Casino, Commerce Casino, Gardens Casino and Amaya/PokerStars, sent a letter to the Assembly on Thursday strongly opposing the new suitability language.
“As now drafted, the bill arbitrarily and unfairly bars one operator from competing with the supporters of these amendments in the iPoker indefinitely,” the letter states.
In addition to the letter, Eric Hollreiser, the vice president of corporate communications for PokerStars parent company Amaya, issued the following statement on Thursday evening:
“Momentum toward online poker legislation in California has taken a huge step backward with the last-minute introduction of poison pill language that serves the interests of those who have obstructed similar consumer protection legislation for years.
The new bill ignores the progress that had been made through public hearings and good faith negotiations and adds language agreed to in backroom deals with those opposed to advancing online poker legislation.
Unfortunately, the bill is now doomed to fail and this means millions of Californians will continue to be at risk while playing on offshore, illegal online sites. By injecting suitability standards that are best determined by regulatory experts at the California Division of Gambling Control this amended legislation picks winners and losers in the state.
Moreover, the bill is not likely pass Constitutional muster as it applies penalties for alleged crimes without any application of due process.”
Poker Players Alliance weighs in
The Poker Players Alliance has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the new suitability language.
In a statement released on Thursday, PPA Executive Director John Pappas said:
“We are deeply disappointed that Chairman Adam Gray has chosen to play politics at the behest of special interests. The proposed amendments threaten to doom the iPoker legislation for which we and our members have advocated for years…”
“A last-minute insertion of so-called “bad actor” amendments would, in reality, just be an anti-competitive measure that would single out Amaya/PokerStars and their California tribal and cardroom partners from participating in the regulated marketplace.
And, while some are purporting that this is a temporary five-year ban, an examination of the proposed amendments reveal that it is actually a lifetime ban. This raises serious constitutional issues and calls into question whether a bill with this language would ever be enacted, assuming it could even pass over what is sure to be stiff opposition.
Most importantly, these amendments threaten to prolong consumers’ wait for regulated online poker in California.”