Hope Fades for California Online Poker in 2015; Conflicts of Interest Shake up Bob Lytle Investigation

sunsetWhile a total of four online poker bills have been introduced into the State Assembly, it doesn’t mean we will see the industry legalized in the state anytime soon. The filing of the two most recent bills by Sen. Isadore Hall and Assemblymen Adam Gray have made some optimistic, but in reality, the tribes remain as hopelessly divided as ever.

Earlier this week, a tribal faction consisting of the Agua Caliente, Barona, Lytton, Pechanga and Viejas Bands, along with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation penned a letter to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer to express their opposition to his online poker bill, AB 167.

The two issues at hand are still bad actor clauses, which the coalition is pushing to include, and the horse tracks, which the group hopes to block.

“While AB 167 is intended to legalize internet poker throughout California, it does so by expanding poker to horseracing facilities at the expense of Tribal Nations which have a demonstrated history of responsible gaming,” said the letter.

Making their case for a bad actor clause, the coalition suggested that any site which continued operating after the UIGEA was passed in 2006 be prohibited from receiving an online poker license.

They claim that AB 9 would give Californians no protection against such nefarious sites, and would “reward those gaming corporations that acted inconsistent with federal law… by authorizing them to use the fruits of their illegal conduct to obtain a license.”

The proponents of a bad actor clause are clearly hoping to limit the competition which online poker giant PokerStars would bring. Many tribes worry that company will eat up the majority of the California market, leaving nothing for them.

What the letter mostly illustrates, though, is the fact that neither side will be making any compromises anytime soon.

Gambling Control Chief Recuses Himself in Bob Lytle Investigation

Bob Lytle, the former head of the California Bureau of Gambling Control, is under suspicion of having received sensitive information from an individual currently working at the agency. Now, Richard Lopez, chairman of the California Gambling Control Commission, has recused himself from deliberations in the case due to the fact that he once served as Lytle’s superior.

“Since the alleged misconduct occurred during the short period of time when Mr. Lytle reported directly to me, it is for that reason and that reason alone that I believe the course of action is to recuse myself from these proceedings,” Lopes said.

Lytle, who left government work in 2007, is now a consultant claiming nearly 28 of the state’s cardrooms as clients. Investigators believe, however, that the former gambling chief has benefited from some inappropriate connections and received information pertaining to his new clients from a source at his old agency.

California’s Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris accused Lytle of using that sensitive information to preempt any regulatory actions planned against his clients.

Tina Littleton, Executive Director of the CGCC, has also decided to remove herself from the case due to the fact that she is living with the agent supposedly responsible for handing over classified information.

Lighten has denied all wrongdoing, telling the commission, “I have done nothing wrong.”