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Three's a Crowd in California

Three's a Crowd in California

As eight of the largest gaming tribes in California lobby lawmakers in favor of an online gaming bill that tribal leaders have agreed to, online gaming was the subject of much discussion at the Capital Weekly’s Online Gaming Conference held May 7 in Sacramento.

Topics that took place during the conference, held at the California Chamber of Commerce office, included how tribes will participate in online gaming, how online gaming will impact existing brick-and-mortar casinos, and who might be able to apply for a license.

There are competing bills out there, the most prominent being Senator Rod Wright’s online poker bill. That bill would allow any entity that currently offers gaming in the state to be eligible for an online gaming license, including racetracks. The tribal proposal would limit licenses to gaming tribes and card rooms, and would edge out racetracks. The tribes argue that any law governing online gaming must be consistent with existing state tribal gaming compacts.

They say they are continuing to work with Wright to promote a bill that will benefit all those who are involved.

However, Senator Lou Correa has introduced a bill—SB 678—that contains all of the tribal suggestions. His bill is called the Authorization and Regulation of Internet Poker and Consumer Protection Act of 2013.

“A broad coalition of California Indian gaming and non-gaming tribes participated in an inclusive and transparent process over several months regarding the development of draft bill language,” said San Manuel Band Chairwoman Carla Rodriguez.

The bill would be limited to online poker, would limit players to 21 years old or older, would license existing gaming operators in the state while disqualifying operators who have violated the existing federal internet gaming ban, and would specifically ban so-called “internet cafés.”

The Pechanga Band of Indians and seven other gaming tribes sponsored the third bill. It would give gaming tribes a dominant role in regulating such operations and limit licenses to gaming tribes and card rooms.