Could Wide-Ranging Group Drown Out Pechanga Alliance?

California Online Poker Bill Gets Unprecedented Support From Growing Coalition

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A coalition of 21 California tribes, card rooms, racetracks and unions sent a letter on Friday supporting AB 2863, the online poker bill authored by Assemblymember Adam Gray.

The letter comes on the heels of several new amendments to AB 2863. It is scheduled for a June 15 hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

What the letter says

The letter, sent to Lorena Gonzalez, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, was short and to the point:

The undersigned are in support of moving AB 2863 and look forward to continuing the dialogue.

We have been working with the Legislature for many years to create a regulatory structure for iPoker, an online version of a game that is already authorized in the California Penal Code.

We look forward to your support of moving AB 2863.

Potential impact of new letter

The breadth of the new coalition is something we have yet to see in California, and could be capable of moving the needle on this issue. The overarching question is whether or not the collective voices supporting the bill can overcome the remaining opposition forces, led by the Pechanga and Agua Caliente tribes.

At a hearing in April, we saw the first indications of this new, united front. Not only did the racing industry come out in support of AB 2863 during the hearing, but a number of union representatives and members spoke before the committee, sending a powerful message to California lawmakers.

With today’s letter clearly showing wide-ranging support for AB 2863, the legalization of online poker in California has unprecedented momentum.

Who signed the letter

As noted, the letter has a long list of signatories:

  • Bo Mazetti, Chairman, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Gene Whitehouse, Chairman, United Auburn Indian Community
  • Robert Smith, Pala Band of Mission Indians
  • Lynne Valbuena, Chairwoman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
  • Robert Martin, Tribal Chairman, Morongo Band of Mission Indians
  • Haig Papaian, Chairman & CEO, Commerce Casino
  • Ron Sarabi, General Manager, Hawaiian Gardens Casino
  • Hashem Minaiy, Managing General Partner & CEO, The Bicycle Hotel & Casino
  • Nick Menas, Vice President, Corporate Development and Government Relations, Amaya / PokerStars
  • Nick Coukos, President, Thoroughbred Owners of California
  • Josh Rubinstein, Chief Operating Officer, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
  • Doug Burge, President, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association
  • Barry Broad, Legislative Representative, The Jockeys Guild
  • Chris Korby, Executive Director, California Authority of Racing Fairs Barry Broad, Legislative Director, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council
  • Alan Balch, Executive Director, California Thoroughbred Trainers
  • Brad McKinzie, General Manager, Los Alamitos Racing Association
  • Rene A. Bayardo, Government Relations Advocate, SEIU California
  • Stephen Chambers, Executive Director, Western Fairs Association
  • Cliff Munson, President, California Fairs Alliance
  • Ted Kingston, Owner, Lake Elsinore Casino

You can see the letter here.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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