Following the announcement of a unified online poker bill supported by 13 California tribes, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Commerce Club, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Bicycle Casino and The Rational Group released a statement today ripping the bill’s inclusion of a so-called “bad actor” clause that would apparently preclude PokerStars from participation in California’s regulated online poker market.
PokerStars has a partnership agreement with Morongo, Commerce, the Bike and Hawaiian Gardens.
We support legislation that would allow Californians to play online poker on well-regulated websites owned by California’s existing trusted gaming partners and operated by the most qualified and suitable companies in the industry.
We believe the legislative process should be used to establish a strong regulatory system that ensures stringent consumer protection, consumer choice and maximum revenue for the state.
However, we strongly oppose the so-called “bad actor” language that is nothing other than a blatant attempt to provide certain interests with an unfair competitive advantage by arbitrarily locking out trusted iPoker brands. We will vigorously oppose any legislation that includes this language.
These provisions in the Tribal coalition’s proposed amendments that are solely intended to lock out certain providers violate both the U.S. and California constitutions.
The tribal coalition amendments would exclude from participation, for purely anti-competitive reasons, companies that have never admitted or been convicted of wrongdoing, are duly licensed in jurisdictions around the world, and have set the gold standard in the online poker industry for game and financial integrity and player satisfaction.
At the same time, the legislation would not exclude companies or individuals that clearly have operated illegal California-facing casino wagering and sports betting sites and that have admitted to breaking the law.
Make no mistake, we believe strongly that all licensees and operators should meet the highest standards of accountability and suitability.
We believe the job of determining suitability should be left with the existing regulators – the CA Gambling Control Commission and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Gambling Control, using the Gambling Control Act’s existing standards that these regulators have been successfully applying for many years.
We look forward to working with all stakeholders and with members of the Legislature to craft a final bill that will best serve the interests and needs of all Californians– and not just those who would use the Legislature to protect them from fair competition.