Pechanga Changes Position On iPoker Again, Now Opposes Legalization

Posted on May 27th, 2015 by Jon Pineda
Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians California online poker

The legalization of online poker in California has suffered a blow as the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and eight other tribes withdrew support for any bill that seeks to permit iPoker. (Image: californiagambler.com)

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, along with eight other tribal organizations, has reversed its position on the legalization of Internet poker in California, penning a collective letter rescinding any support for a bill authored by State Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced).

“Some of our tribal governments moved to ‘neutral’ or ‘no position’ before the bill was heard in the Assembly G.O. Committee on April 27 out of respect for Chairman Gray’s leadership and prior assurance that consensus would be sought before moving forward,” the letter reads.

“Continuing to pass this measure as a spot bill does not advance a state regulatory structure for iPoker.”

Change of Heart

Pechanga has been all over the place regarding online poker ever since Gray introduced AB 431.

Mark Macarro, chairman of the tribe, said he hoped the bill wouldn’t be moved out of the Governmental Organization Committee (GO) because its shell nature didn’t address many key regulatory matters, primarily the eligibility requirements for licensees.

Understandably, the tribes don’t want to lose their commercial gambling monopoly in the state.

However, after Gray reworked his legislation to appeal to Indian leaders, Macarro switched his organization’s stance to neutral.

With support from the Morongo and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Commerce, Hawaiian Gardens and Bicycle casinos, the GO Committee unanimously passed AB 431 in late April, prompting Pechanga to take a more formal stance.

“Legalization of iPoker is a significant public policy consideration with long-term implications for the State of California, its citizens, and our tribal governments,” the coalition of nine states declared. “Although stakeholders have made progress in building consensus on some issues, important disagreements remain, including eligibility for licensure and suitability standards that instill public trust and confidence in the integrity of the licensees.”

Poker Close at Hand

All eyes in the poker world are on California’s next-door neighbor Nevada as the 46th annual World Series of Poker kicks off this week in Las Vegas at the Rio.

Each year, the WSOP gets the game front and center, not only in the gambling industry but also the sports and business headlines.

And by all means, it’s shaping up to be a colossal year for the tournament.

Event #5, The Colossus, is a $565 no-limit hold’em with a guaranteed $5 million prize pool that’s expected to eclipse 10,000 players and become the largest field in poker history.

Meanwhile, PokerStars is making headlines of its own by signing soccer superstars Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo as brand ambassadors.

The planet’s largest online network is making a conscious effort to grow the game of poker, and its parent company Amaya is certainly hoping more states will legalize iPoker.

A study conducted by the California Online Poker Association found that legalizing iPoker could generate as much as $1 billion in revenue over the next 10 years for the cash-strapped state, and create more than 1,000 jobs.

Although jurisdictions that have passed online gambling have struggled to reach pre-market estimates such as the California Online Poker Association’s projection, any additional income would be welcomed to a government on the verge of economic collapse due to its $1 trillion unsustainable pension system.

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