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California Tribes More Unified than Ever on iPoker

Posted on by John Lathram

California Tribes More Unified than Ever on iPokerOnline poker players in California who have tired of waiting for the state’s gaming interests to find common ground can rejoice in some good news.

Tribal unity with regard to advancing online poker legislation is at an all-time high. The Golden State’s powerful Indian tribes have long been at odds over the way an ipoker bill should be worded. But indications are that some of the in-fighting of past years may be over.

The tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Mark Macarro, recently stated that many of the experienced, respected and influential tribes in California are now able to see eye-to-eye on a unified bill. Macarro told iGamingBusiness that the peace reached by the tribes during the last legislative session should not be underestimated.

With 2015 just around the corner, it appears that the new year will bring in with it the best chance ever of California lawmakers finally approving Internet poker legislation. There remain a few issues yet to be sorted out, but it seems that perhaps those roadblocks can be navigated successfully in next year’s legislative session.

Still standing in the way are “bad actor” provisions, the extent of the horse racing industry’s participation, and some regulatory issues. Once those key areas are settled, it’s likely that residents of the nation’s largest state can enjoy legalized online poker.

What the rest of the country can expect is that online poker in California will be restricted to an intrastate model. Unfortunately, there is no plan to partner with any states or other countries at this time, much to the chagrin of players located in those other states. Macarro insisted that the focus is on providing limited, regulated online poker on an intrastate basis.

Perhaps that will change in the future, but for now it appears that the tribes, cardrooms, horsemen and lawmakers have their hands full with tackling the issues that are centered within the state.

Macaaro, whose Pechanga tribe is the largest casino operator in California, said that a new online poker bill will be introduced in December. That’s just a bit over a month away, so the renewed effort to get regulation approved will begin shortly.

Of the two lawmakers who proposed ipoker legislation in the last session, Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, only one will remain. Correa has reached his term limit in the Senate. However, Macarro expects another California lawmaker to step in and fill his shoes.

While the passage of online poker legislation in California in 2015 is far from a slam-dunk, it is encouraging to know that the players involved are seemingly closer than ever before. With potentially billions of dollars in revenue at stake, it makes perfect sense for the state’s gaming interests to finally settle their differences and ring in the new year with the approval of ipoker regulation.

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