When it comes to online poker in California, there’s not a lot of agreement between all of the different factions with an interest in the industry. Sure, just about everyone seems to want Internet poker in a general sense, but exactly how the framework for such games would work and the rules governing them is still up for debate.
That’s why it’s promising to see a large group of interested parties make a public statement showing consensus for Internet poker in the state. A total of 25 poker rooms signed on to a letter to legislators in the state showing their support for online poker, and offering a broad picture of how they’d like to see the state regulate the industry if a bill is passed.
Broad Consensus on Most Issues
That move comes about a month after 13 Indian tribes in the state offered a similar letter of support. While the card rooms didn’t offer quite as unified a stance on the issue as the tribal groups did, they still outlined the principles they’d like to see in any online poker bill, as well as making clear that they want their interests to be represented in any Internet poker legislation.
“Internet poker is a critical issue for card rooms because poker is our historic game and represents a significant part of our business,” the letter stated. “While the legalization of internet poker will bring more attention to our poker games, we believe that it will increase competition for poker patrons and that the major benefits will accrue to those operators who have a state in internet poker operations. It is essential that card rooms be able to participate in internet poker in a meaningful way to protect our existing poker business, jobs and tax base.”
The letter also asked that all entities interested in running online poker sites should be treated fairly and given equal opportunity to participate.
“Legislation which pretends to include card rooms but handicaps or otherwise restricts their effective participation is not good policy,” the letter stated. “No one group should dominate Internet poker.”
“Bad Actor” Clause Supported
The card rooms specified their positions on a number of topics, ranging from strong regulation to legal designations that would give them the same rights as Native American tribes. But perhaps the most notable statement came on the topic of so-called “bad actors”.
“It is also important that we exclude bad actors from our market and that the proposed legislation clearly define these terms,” the letter noted. “It would be a mockery of the law to permit such bad actors to leverage their ill-gotten advantages—resources, branding and customer databases—to pre-empt competition from businesses in California who have always operated legally.”
That devotion to a “bad actor” clause may explain why some major poker rooms signed on to the letter, while others were notably absent. Both Hustler Casino and Hollywood Park Casino were among the letter’s signees, while rooms allied with PokerStars (a likely target of any “bad actor” clause) including the Commerce Club, the Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Bicycle Casino were not among those represented.
The letter was sent to State Senator Lou Correa, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, and members of the Government organization Committees in both houses of the California legislature.