CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION FOR DEBATE NEXT MONDAY? (Update)
 
Tax and bad actor changes reported as interested parties try for a compromise.
 
Latest reports in the LA Times on the controversial issue of legalised online poker in California are that the latest amendments to tax and bad actor provisions may have achieved a sufficient consensus to merit sending bill AB 2863 to the Assembly floor for voting – perhaps next Monday.
 
The tax amendment reportedly changes the proposed tax rate for operators from the current sliding scale of 8.64 percent to 15 percent based on the annual gross gaming revenue to a flat rate of 10 percent, whilst the controversial bad actor provisions are that companies (read Pokerstars) that accepted US action after the UIGEA are disqualified from obtaining Californian licensing for five years.
 
The latter represents a more lenient approach than that proposed by some tribes of a 10 year disqualification.
 
Trent Hager, the chief of staff for Assemblyman Adam Gray, the author of AB 2863, told the LA Times Wednesday:
 
“This deal should secure a two-thirds vote in the Assembly.”  He added that there are indications that the bill should be "fairly well" received in the state Senate.
 
The publication Online Poker Report also reported on the changes, observing that Pokerstars and its cardroom and tribal alliance are still opposed to the five year disqualification, which remains a serious bone of contention.
 
Tribes which have agreed on the five year ban admitted that it would be difficult to get the bill through in the face of such powerful opposition.
 
However, sources close to the ten tribes that support the disqualification period insisted that the five year ban represents a reasonable compromise that could get the bill through the Assembly, pointing out that it is no harsher than the hiatus imposed on Pokerstars by the Nevada regulator.
 
The tribal groups appear to be hoping for a split in the Pokerstars camp, urging the tribal elements therein to agree the bad actor provisions.
 
“If San Manuel and Morongo (tribes) are genuinely concerned with protecting consumers, they would support this tenuous compromise,” an unnamed tribal official told OPR.
 
However, Pokerstars is likely to again argue that it has not been convicted of any wrongdoing following its massive $731 million settlement with the US Department of Justice concerning its post-UIGEA activities.