A California Indian tribe has spoken out on behalf of players, reminding the stakeholders involved not to forget consumers in ipoker regulation efforts.
Those efforts at legislation have dragged on for seven years, with many observers failing to see much progress. But the chairman of the Rincon tribe, Bo Mazzetti, wrote in a recent op-ed piece that although progress may be slow, online poker legalization
appears to be moving forward.
Published in the San Diego Union-Times, the editorial points out that while the state’s cardrooms, Indian tribes and racetracks argue over who should be included or left out of operating poker sites, California residents have yet to be heard. Those residents continue to play at unregulated sites operated overseas that provide little protection by way of safety of funds and the prevention of addictive gambling.
The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians boss further mentions that huge profits are being enjoyed by the offshore poker site operators – profits that would (and should) go to the state if the parties involved could ever agree on regulation. Whether or not they ever will agree remains to be seen, as the major battle of permitting racetracks and companies like PokerStars to participate is being fought tooth and nail by other Indian tribes such as Pechanga and Agua Caliente.
Mazzetti states a few suggestions on how the state should proceed, starting first with establishing a
regulatory framework that includes enforcement of making sure the games are fair and safe. The burden of funding the enforcement efforts should not be carried by California residents, the tribal chairman insisted.
Also recommended is that poker room operators who receive licensing under the new scheme
have a track record of real money poker play in California and have a clean record in those endeavors. The Rincon tribe is currently allied with the United Auburn and Pala tribes, and is not as hard-nosed about permitting the involvement of racetracks and bad actors as other tribes.
Finally, the Rincon honcho correctly mentions that the technology needed to make regulated online poker safe is already being done on a large scale in other regions such as the UK and Italy. The powers that be in California can certainly learn a thing or two from those ipoker regimes and would be wise to take a page out of their playbooks.
While it is encouraging that a powerful tribe like Rincon seemingly has an eye toward consumers in the ipoker debate, the stalemate may drag on unless Rincon can do more to convince other tribes to sit down at the negotiating table with compromise in mind. Failure to find common ground among the gaming interests involved may see efforts at regulation extend to an eighth year – and perhaps beyond.