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California Online Poker Bill has Tribes Facing Off

1 August 2011 by admin

There is a lot of good that could come out of California’s SB 40 bill. For one thing there could be the creation of 1,300 jobs. There is the initial profit to California of $250 million with another $1.4 billion that could be brought in from profits from online poker and online casino fees. All that money would make add to the $7.5 billion that is already being earned by the tribal casinos and other land casinos. Considering that millions of California residents play online poker every day, it only makes sense to create an infrastructure that would give them safe and regulate online poker.

This is the thinking of the California Online Poker Association (COPA) as well as the viewpoint of state Senator Lou Correa, the author of the online poker bill for California, SB 40. The bill originally was to allow only five top online casino companies to obtain a license but they would have to pay an upfront licensing fee of $50 million. But that $50 million would give them exclusivity to the California online poker market as other online casino companies would not be able to apply for a license until 2016.

However, in one of the few occasions in history where the California Sovereign Nations do not agree, there are some tribes who are not fans. Several tribes have joined the California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA). If California were a chess board, COPA would be white and CTBA would be black. Or vice verse depending on your color preference, but the point is that while COPA finds the limit to five initial online poker companies to be acceptable, CTBA does not. “We think that the bill is tailored to benefit COPA. We want it to be an open, fair process—we’ll compete against anyone if and when it comes to that, but we don’t believe preferential treatment should be given to any particular group,” said Chris Lundstrom, the Executive Director of CTBA.

The sentiment is true to traditional tribal approach to most legislation that does not provide the tribal casinos with an equal footing to compete with non-tribal card rooms. Originally the online poker bill limited California’s capacity to only the first five top online casinos to be awarded a license. But in July Correa rewrote a portion of SB 40 so that in 2016 more operators would be able to apply for license. He cites the wait time to allow those who originally applied to have time to recoup their investment. But it is that wait time that has CTBA so upset. And understandably so. That is a potential four years for the original five online casino operators to get a foothold in the California online poker market. New sites in 2016 would have to try to draw traffic away from them, hence the sentiment that SB 40 would provide an unfair advantage.

We here at will continue to keep an eye on the situation in California and let our readers know when new developments occur.

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