Regulated online poker in the state of California is getting closer to actually becoming a reality as the states Indian tribes appear to have finally made a deal that suits all. After a meeting in San Diego it looks like that the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians are all in favor of taking the next steps. Tribal lobbyist Jerome Encinas stated that, “We are very happy that the tribes have come together on key differences and look forward to providing agreed upon language to the legislature.” It was agreed that each licensee in the state could operate two online poker sites and they also agreed that those with horse racing interests would be out of the running, meaning that racetracks in California will not be eligible for an online poker license.
The one big issue left to iron out will be the bad actor clause that will probably be included in final legislation, and that would of course exclude PokerStars who have recently made a deal with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. The bad actor clause means that any online gaming business that continued to operate in the US after the UIGEA bill was passed is considered to be a bad actor, and to have broken that law, however many industry experts and observers now believe that either a large fine or a period of time out of the California market would suffice, and once the ‘sentence is served’ PokerStars would be allowed to operate in the market, providing the brand name and the software for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. It’s looking possible that legislation could pass before this legislative session ends in August, thus making California, with 38 million residents, by far the largest regulated online poker market in the States.