POKER PLAYERS ALLIANCE SLAMS PROPOSED CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER BILL CHANGES
Late "bad actor" amendments will do little to protect consumers and promote competition.
The Poker Players Alliance, which claims a poker-playing membership of over 1.2 million, 90,000 of whom reside in California, has issued a strong condemnation of the late "bad actor" amendments to California Assemblyman Adam Grays AB2863 bill seeking to legalize online poker in his state.
News that the bill may be presented to the Assembly floor this coming Monday with a provision preventing companies that served the US market post-UIGEA from obtaining licensing for at least five years has predictably triggered an uproar from the tribes, cardrooms and Pokerstars itself.
In the PPA statement executive director John Pappas asserts that the proposed amendments will restrict competition and leave players dissatisfied, in addition to making passage of the bill less likely.
“We are deeply disappointed that chairman Adam Gray has chosen to play politics at the behest of special interests. The proposed amendments threaten to doom the iPoker legalization which we and our members have advocated for years," Pappas notes, adding that his organisations imperative has been consistently to protect consumers and promote competition.
Unfortunately, the proposed amendments undermine this principle, he claims.
Pappas goes on to point out that the proposed five-year ban is, on examination, actually a life-time ban that raises serious constitutional issues, although he does not expand further on his "lifetime ban" claim.
"The purpose of these amendments itself it flawed," the PPA statement continues. "Exclusion of Amaya/PokerStars would be detrimental for many reasons. California consumers would be left without one of the most trusted and popular online poker brands in the world. For years, California players have awaited the return of PokerStars and its proven technology.
"Their presence in markets increases competition, raising the bar for all operators to offer consumer-driven products. This was seen most recently in New Jersey.
"These amendments, were they to become law, would also mean that the operator with the most experience in protecting online consumers – from blocking underage access and mitigating problem gambling to collusion prevention and anti-money laundering measures – would be permanently forced onto the side lines. This would be a loss not only for the consumer, but for the entire state of California."
The PPA reiterates its position on regulation and licensing, asserting that a licence is a privilege that must be earned through a vigorous vetting process, and that questions of suitability should be left to independent California state gaming regulators.
Legislating a “bad actor” provision would strip regulators of that independent role, the action group claims.
"We urge chairman Gray and other members of the Assembly to pass legalization licensing Internet poker, but without this anti-competitive provision," the PPA statement concludes.
"We want an iPoker market that is strong, safe, open and competitive. That is the best result for California consumers.”