Indian tribes, casinos and online poker sites have battled for years over whether – and how – to legalize, regulate and tax internet gaming in California. Now, some tribes appear to have reached a deal that could finally move legislation forward.
The progress between the powerful Pechanga and San Manuel Indian tribes comes after seven years of squabbles and false starts.
“We differed on business models and how eligible entities might be able to participate, and I think we’ve been able to work through some of those thoughts and ideas,” says San Manuel’s Jacob Coin.
“We don’t have unlimited gaming throughout the state of California, so why should it be unlimited over the internet?” says Pechanga's Jacob Mejia. “There’ve gotta be some sensible, rational limitations in place there as well. So they’ve now had those discussions and have come to some agreements on that.”
But not all tribes are in on the deal – nor are some other influential groups. The internet site PokerStars says it’s has been intentionally excluded to limit competition.
“We think the people who look at the issue will see the value of having a licensed marketplace and they’ll want very legitimate, very ethical and very well-known players.” says Eric Hollreiser with PokerStars.
Even if all the tribes, card clubs, horse racing tracks and PokerStars can come together, there will still be some well-funded opposition: Billionaire Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling argues online poker targets children and wouldn’t bring the state nearly as much revenue as supporters have promised.