Opposition to Online Poker legislation in California
The vast majority of Indian casinos and Indian tribes support the legalisation of online poker in California. However, there are several notable exceptions to the rule. One of the most significant opponents of legislating online poker in the Golden State is the California Tribal Business Allowance, otherwise known as CTBA. This consortium of 3 tribes includes the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians. These tribes run land-based casinos in California, and they fear that certain legislation may be detrimental to the prosperity of their businesses, and communities.
There are several poker bills under consideration; one of them has not gained the endorsement of the California Online Poker Association (COPA). Senate bill SB 45 has run into lots of opposition among the Indian tribes in California. There is also a degree of division on Senate Bill SB 40, with the California Tribal Business Allowance having several problems with it. This group is disheartened with the exorbitant charges that are required upfront to establish an online poker site under the provisions of SB 40. It has been estimated that up to $55 million may be required to get started. Many of the smaller tribes feel that some of the conditions of the bill are designed to exclude certain Native American tribes from the lucrative online poker market.
Since there are certain terms and conditions that the CTBA wishes to discuss, they would like to delay implementation of SB 40 until such time as tax-related issues are resolved. As it stands, Indian tribes are typically exempt from state taxes under federal law, but tribal groups may be required to pay state taxes on profits they generate from online poker activity. When it comes to SB 45, many tribal groups in California have expressed serious concerns about many provisions in the bill. The fear that online casino games will be legalised is a particularly important concern, since these tribes run land-based casinos and they fear losing business. Additionally, it is possible that several of these bills may allow operators from outside of California to participate in the online poker market. This may include Las Vegas casinos applying for licensing in California.
There are other critics of regulator online poker gaming in California, notably religious groups who fear that the online poker may increase the number of problem gamblers in the state. This presents challenges in terms of social welfare and places a greater burden on the already overstrained state coffers. There are opponents of online poker legislation believe that legalising online poker may in fact serve to act as a tax on the impoverished sector of society.
The Morongo Band of Native Americans is vehemently opposed to the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2014. The reason why they oppose this bill is because it excludes PokerStars from participating, as a result of the bad actor clause. This legal provision basically excludes all online poker providers that operated in US cyberspace after 31st of December 2006. Even though PokerStars paid $731 million, it has been banned from operating in US cyberspace. It is now over being controlled by the Canadian company Amaya Gaming. According to the California state legislature’s 2014 bills, the House and the Senate have until 31 August 2014 to pass any legislation. It has been concluded by several studies commissioned by Indian tribes that online poker legalisation could generate upwards of $850 million annually, and create thousands of job opportunities too.