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Pechanga Coalition Continues to Oppose Racetracks and PokerStars

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On Wednesday a tribal coalition spearheaded by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians sent a letter to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer and key members of the California legislature opposing Jones-Sawyer’s online poker bill AB 167.

The letter begins with:

“The Tribal Governments shown on this letter write to advise you of our united opposition to your Assembly Bill 167 and any legislation that would expand the scope of gaming in California to grant internet poker licenses to horse racing associations or which would ease regulatory standards to accommodate actors whose past behavior and tainted brands and assets would erode the integrity of intrastate internet poker under consideration.”

Who’s on board

Along with Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro, the letter was also signed  by five other tribal chairman:

  • Jeff Grubbe, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
  • Clifford LaChappa, Barona Band of Mission Indians
  • Margie Mejia, Lytton Band of Pomo Indians
  • Robert J. Welch Jr., Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians of Alpine
  • Leland Kinter, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation near Sacramento

The letter strikes a similar tone to a 2014 letter sent by a 13 tribe coalition led by Pechanga and Agua Caliente last summer. While the number of signatories has dropped from 13 in 2014 to just six this year, the continued opposition to PokerStars and racetracks by Pechanga and Agua Caliente gives the letter plenty of force in the statehouse.

Missing from the 2015 bill are the San Manuel Band of Mission of Indians who joined the PokerStars coalition late last year, as well as the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the United Auburn Indian Community, and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians who splintered off from the Pechanga coalition last month, accepting racetracks and softening their stance on Bad Actor clauses.

Two other tribes that were part of the Pechanga coalition in 2014, the Cachil Dehe Band of the Wintun Indians and Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, have not made their current position known.

Items of note

One interesting aspect of the letter is the conflating of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. The letter states:

“This public trust was undermined by unscrupulous entities and brands that, according to a 2011 indictment by the United States Department of Justice, accepted bets in violation of U.S. laws and defrauded poker players of over $300 million.”

It should be noted that PokerStars promptly paid all U.S. players their full account balances following their exit from the market, and also facilitated the repayment of Full Tilt Poker players in their settlement with the U.S. government.

The letter also makes mention of the Bad Actor clause contained in Nevada’s online poker bill, but fails to mention the lack of a Bad Actor clause in New Jersey or Delaware, where regulators were left to determine the suitability of potential licensees.

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