California iGaming Week in Review: Tribal Agreement and Bill Deadlines

Written By Steve Ruddock on May 23, 2014 - Last Updated on September 13, 2022
Weekly California Online Poker Update news tribes Willie Brown

It’s been a big week for California online poker and it’s only going to get even bigger as we head into the iGaming Conference scheduled for May 22nd, but before we get to the conference we need to get you caught up on a few other big stories coming out of the Golden State.

The first story we have for you this week is a major boost for online poker hopes, as a coalition of tribes have finally reached an agreement on certain aspects of the online poker bills. The consensus doesn’t cover everything, and it doesn’t include all of the tribes (*Morongos*) but it’s an important and vital step in the process. Keep the ball moving up the field, that’s all I ask for.

Our second big story has to do with California legislative procedures (I know, exciting right?), specifically an upcoming deadline for bills, among which are the pair of online poker bills sitting in the state assembly and the state senate which fall directly under this deadline, but then again, maybe they don’t.

We’ll get to both of these stories and more in this installment of the California iGaming Week in Review.

Tribal consensus reached on one point of contention

There are still several major hurdles to overcome (namely the PokerStars / Bad Actor situation) but a solid step was taken towards legalized online poker in the Golden State last week, as a coalition of tribes that were previously at odds came to an agreement over the number of licenses each provider should be allowed to hold.

This consensus has been reported at both EGR North America and Gambling Compliance (both of which require a subscription to see the content) and basically cleared up how many licenses a licensee can hold, but perhaps more importantly the groups agreed to reconvene next week to work out more details of the bills.

Tribal lobbyist Jerome Encinas told EGR North America, “We are very happy that the tribes have come together on key differences and look forward to providing agreed upon language to the legislature.”

We’ll have to wait and see if they are going to discuss the real issue, PokerStars, but the tribes will also have to work out specifics for revenue sharing, augment and tone down their vitriolic language against certain card rooms (whom they have referred to as “bad actors” in their own right) and finally, what to do about race tracks.

Former Mayor Willie Brown joins Adelson

For those of you that missed our story earlier this week, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has signed on to Sheldon Adelson’s anti-online gambling crusade and will likely act as his California surrogate along with lobbyist Fabian Nunez.

For the entire story, and to see Willie Brown’s flip-flop on this issue you can read this article: Sheldon Adelson Adds Willie Brown to his Collection of California Lobbyists

The deadline that is not really a deadline

Here is something you may not have been aware of: There is a looming legislative deadline for the proposed online poker bills at the end of the month, as all bills must pass their “House of Origin” by May 30 according to an article at this week.

This is something that few people were aware (hats off to Curtis Woodard for bringing this deadline to light) but fortunately it’s not a very big deal, and the deadline is more of a “soft” deadline.

After looking into the matter, there are ways to get around this deadline (which is why we haven’t seen much urgency from legislators) with the most likely being what the California rules call “Gut and Amend.” Gut and amend is an innovative legislative tool that allows a lawmaker to take an existing piece of legislation that is current and basically erase it and replace it with a new bill, i.e. an online poker bill.

California iGaming Barometer

The atmosphere around the campfire has gotten a bit more optimistic and upbeat over the past week. The new consensus concerning licenses along with several other pierces of anecdotal evidence on Twitter have California online poker looking like more of a possibility than it was just a week ago.

Online poker expansion in the state is still well below 50%, but we are definitely above the Mendoza line at this point.

You can see how yesterday’s conference went here: Highlights From Yesterday’s California Conference on Online Gaming

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

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