ANOTHER YEAR OF FAILURE LOOMS FOR CALIFORNIAN ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION (Update)
Insiders report that Assemblyman Adam Gray may take his proposed legalization off the table for Mondays Assembly session.
With an end-August Californian Assembly adjournment ever closer, the news broke over the weekend that Assemblyman Adam Gray may be about to pull his online poker legalization bill AB 2863 from Mondays much anticipated floor debate following intensified opposition to its latest amendments.
Going into the weekend there was growing opposition – and the hint of litigation – from alliances that are against Grays proposed "bad actor" amendment imposing a five-year ban on licensing for operators who serviced the US market pre-UIGEA.
The ban was a bid to get the troublesome Pechanga-Agua Caliente-led tribal coalition on board but triggered a hostile response from the powerful Pokerstars-CardClubs- Tribal alliance and the Poker Players Alliance.
Over the weekend the opposition intensified with the influential Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians lobbying against AB 2863, ensuring it will not survive the California Assembly debate, sources told the usually dependable publication Online Poker Report Saturday.
Other sources opined that Assemblyman Gray may have shelved his plans for bringing AB 2863 up for a vote in the Assembly on Monday.
Apparently the Viejas-Lytton faction has not joined the Morongo and San Manuel tribes in the Pokerstars coalition, and in fact remain opposed to Pokerstars as members of the Pechanga-Agua Caliente alliance.
However, they are independently disputing the "bad actor" language of the Gray bill and want to see the imposition of an additional $20 million penalty clause.
The Viejas-Lytton group takes exception to the use of the finite term 2022 as signalling the end of any licensing ban, and instead want to see the ban specifically defined as starting only when the first bet is accepted in California under legalising legalization.
They argue that essential regulatory and licensing preparation and processes leading up to the actual implementation of the new law could take years, and by specifying the end of the licensing hiatus as 2022 the amendment is actually reducing the length of the "penalty" five year period.
That reduction could be further exacerbated if the Pokerstars opposition to the law results in litigation, which could take months or even years, the tribe notes.
David Quintana, a lobbyist for the Viejas, told Online Poker Report:
“They can jam up the regulatory process to make the penalty box as small as possible. They might throw in some legal challenges, anything they can think of to shrink the five years.”
Quintana hinted that the Viejas-Lytton faction may have been misled by the Pechanga-Agua Caliente, commenting:
“Pechanga and Agua told us [Gray] was going to accept the first bet” provision. He was good with it. When he came back with the amendment he had this  date in it. That’s when Viejas said, ‘No. We’ve got to stand by our principles.’
Grays latest amendments have already been rejected by the Pokerstars alliance, which has urged the Assembly to give AB 2863 a no vote; the added opposition from the Viejas-Lytton faction unintentionally strengthens the chances of having the bill rejected in the Assembly…if Gray submits it at all.
The bill will need 54 positive votes to make it out of the Assembly and on to the state Senate, and the possibilities are looking increasingly remote that this year will see the end of ten years of attempting to legalise online poker in Americas most populous and affluent state.
The Morongo-San Manuel faction within the Pokerstars alliance has already issued a statement observing:
“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.”