California Card Rooms Support Online Poker Legislation

July 22nd, 2014 | by Jason Reynolds
Several major card rooms signed on to the letter, including the Hollywood Park Casino.

The Hollywood Park Casino was one of the major card rooms to sign on to the letter. (Image: Inglewood Public Library)

One of the biggest challenges in making online poker work in California is getting everyone on the same page. Given the size of the state and its gaming industry, there are a lot of different factions that need to get on board with any effort to regulate Internet poker: Native American tribes, commercial card rooms, horse racing interests and more.

But while this has often been the sticking point when it comes to creating a bill that would please anyone, it’s starting to look as though these varied interests may be coming closer to an agreement. This week, 25 card rooms in California have signed on to a letter that outlines their consensus position on Internet poker legislation. The move comes just a month after 13 Indian tribes in the state put together a similar statement.

According to a statement from the card rooms, the letter was sent to State Senator Lou Correa and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, both of whom have introduced online poker bills in the California legislature. The letter was also sent to the Governmental Organization Committees in each house.

Broad Agreement on Legislation

The main thrust of the letter was that while all card rooms don’t agree on the fine points of online poker legislation, they all agree with regulating it in principle, and are likely to support or oppose any laws as a group. In addition, they want to make it clear that they believe card rooms need to be part of the process in drafting such a bill.

“We pay gaming, business and income taxes to the state and local governments and provide valuable living wage jobs to thousands of persons,” the letter stated. “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 also pointed out that the card rooms want to be part of the operation of any online poker marketplace in California.

“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 stated.

The letter also offered a variety of opinions on issues important to the card rooms in any Internet poker legislation. For instance, the card rooms asked that they have the same rights as the state’s Native American tribes, that regulations be strong and meaningful, and that the state enforce laws against illegal operators.

Card Rooms Ask for “Bad Actor” Clause

But perhaps most notable of all was a section that asked the state to exclude “bad actors” from any online poker marketplace.

“As licensed card rooms in the state, we have been precluded from operating Internet poker sites,” the letter stated. “In fact, some card rooms considered entering the market–a natural thought given our presence in the poker market–but did not because we respect the spirit and letter of state and federal law.

“Companies that continued to take internet wagers from California residents after changes to federal law in 2006…should e categorically precluded from receiving state gambling licenses,” the letter continued.

The list of clubs signing on to the letter included major players like Hollywood Park and Hustler in Los Angeles. However, other large rooms such as the Bicycle Casino, Bay 101 and the Commerce Casino were not among the signees.

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