PokerStars, Tribes and Bad Actors in California PokerStars, Tribes and Bad Actors in California
Peter Kaminski, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Rumors abound that PokerStars and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California are working together to oppose any new law which includes a “bad actor” clause that might exclude PokerStars from a state regulated market.

The latest indication comes from a tweet put out by iGamingPlayer.

iGamingPlayer is “the leading licensed affiliate marketing platform in the US,” according to the site’s twitter profile. It operates in all three regulated markets in the US. It later clarified that the information came from “a very good source close to the situation.”

The tweet was followed by a report from Gambling Compliance which reported that PokerStars, Morongo and two cardrooms were in partnership to block online poker legislation with “bad actor” provisions.

PokerStars has not yet been able to secure a New Jersey license, but its attempts to do so indicate that it has a strong interest in gaining a presence in the nascent US market.

California is in many ways the “grand prize.” Its population of 38 million, with an average household income of over $61,000 make it the largest potential single-state market in the US. A “bad actor” clause in a future law could exclude Rational Group from this market.

There are two bills currently on the table in California: AB 2291, from Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, and SB 1366, sponsored by State Senator Lou Correa. Competing interests from politicians, existing business and tribes will all need to be reconciled before either bill could pass into law.

Back in 2009, the Chairman of the 1000-strong Morongo Band of Mission Indians Robert Martin set out the tribe’s position on internet gambling in testimony which roundly condemned previous attempts to legislate for online gambling in California.

Since then, the fears that land based casino businesses will be cannibalized by regulated online gaming have been partly dispelled, and the prospects for new opportunities for tribal nations have been increased. The Pala Band of Mission Indians in California is well advanced, having hired former CEO Jim Ryan and picked up Phil Ivey as a brand ambassador.

Legislators have also developed a better feel for balancing competing interests—for dividing up the potential pie—and there is now a mood that the onset of California regulated online gaming has become inevitable.

A Rational Group spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the rumors.