Friday october 26,2012 : MORE ON COPA COLLAPSE (Update)
Dissension among tribal groups leads to dissolution of online poker legalization alliance
A spokesman for the California Online Poker Association, Ryan Hightower, gave more detail on the sudden collapse of the tribal group and card room internet poker legalization alliance Thursday, revealing that the decision to dissolve the body was based upon insufficient progress within the California legislature toward the passage of an online poker bill.
"When the California Online Poker Association (COPA) was formed two years ago, the COPA operating agreement contemplated that the organization might be dissolved if state online poker legalization had not passed by January 2, 2013," Hightower said in a statement.
"COPA’s members continue to believe that the authorization of intrastate Internet poker would provide California with hundreds of millions in new state revenue, thousands of new jobs and vital protections for players."
However, it was widely reported in US media that tribal in-fighting had also played a role in the two main tribal groups, the Morongo and the San Manuel bands, pulling out of the coalition.
COPA consisted of 29 tribes and 31 card rooms, all intent on ensuring the alliance gained a dominant position in any legalization of intrastate online poker in California.
But persistent political and commercial rivalry, along with opposition from the Pechanga and Agua Caliente tribes, has derailed several legislative attempts to achieve legalization in the state.
San Manuel Indians have not given up on the idea of legalization, according to a comment made by the tribe's leader Carla Rodrigues in a statement explaining the her group’s withdrawal from COPA.
"The politics over Internet poker over the last two years simply has not caught up with modern technology's inroads into California gaming economics, and it was unclear how soon in the future that would change,” said Rodriguez. “We decided it was time to step back for awhile and assess the situation.”
And Morongo chairman Robert Martin commented: “We continue to believe that the Internet is the future of gaming. We will refocus our efforts and are evaluating our options going forward.”
Meanwhile Presse Enterprise reported that COPA's play-for-fun online poker website, Calshark.com, for now at least remains in operation.
The site was created as part of a deal between COPA and online-poker software provider Playtech, anticipating California legalization.