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California Tribal Business Alliance Pledges To Block PokerStars From Online Poker Market

PokerStars and Morongo Band of Mission Indians Reportedly Close To Deal


There are currently two bills on the table that could bring online poker to California and obviously, PokerStars wants in.

California has a population of 38 million, roughly 14 times that of Nevada. With a state by state patchwork of online poker legislation in the works, the Golden State is one of the most sought after markets in the country.

The site has reportedly entered negotiations with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, who operate the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon. While the Morongos may be the best way to get PokerStars’ foot in the door, the California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA) has pledged to block any piece of legislation that doesn’t have a “bad actor” clause, which would essentially shut the site out of the market for the indictments that occurred as a result of Black Friday.

Although PokerStars’ $731 million settlement with the Department of Justice was not an admission of guilt, the site has had trouble getting back into the U.S. after failed attempts to buy an Atlantic City casino and partner with existing casinos for licensing.

Morongo Casino Resort & SpaIn order for either of the two bills to pass, it will need the support of the CTBA. California is home to the nation’s largest and most powerful tribal gaming industry which brings in roughly $6.8 billion annually.

However, Chairperson Leslie Lohse has indicted that the alliance will not support any bill that will allow PokerStars back into the market because of their continued operation in the U.S. after the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.

“We will strongly oppose any legislation which allows PokerStars to participate,” Lohse said in a statement.

Online gaming expert Chris Krafcik recently told Card Player that online poker in California could be up and running by early 2015.

CTBA Chairperson Leslie Lohse“If the state’s fractious but politically powerful Native American gaming industry can agree to a consensus Internet poker bill, tribal lobbyists expect that it will move quickly,” Krafcik said.

According to an article in the NY Times_, an online poker system in California would earn between $100 and $250 million in tax revenue?r=0 each year and bring in 1,100 permanent jobs to the state over the next decade.

Online poker is currently licensed and regulated in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. New Jersey, which has a population of just under 9 million, is on pace to collect about $34 million in tax revenue in 2014.