PokerStars operator Rational Group and its Californian online gaming partners have attacked the bad actor clause contained in the iGaming bill proposed by thirteen California Native American tribes, saying they will vigorously oppose any legislation that seeks to predetermine suitability.
Rational Group, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Commerce Club, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Bicycle Casino cardrooms said that they would support legislation that would allow Californians to play online poker “on well-regulated websites owned by California's existing trusted gaming partners and operated by the most qualified and suitable companies in the industry.”
The quartet warned, however, that the bad actor language was “nothing other than a blatant attempt to provide certain interests with an unfair competitive advantage by arbitrarily locking out trusted iPoker brands.”
The proposed bill, which was made public earlier this week, includes a clause that would exclude any service provider or marketing affiliate involved in online gaming in the US after December 31st, 2006 from applying for a licence. Rational Group and its partners say this attempt to lock out certain providers is a violation of both the US and California constitutions.
“We will vigorously oppose any legislation that includes this language,” the group said in a statement
“The tribal coalition amendments would exclude from participation, for purely anti-competitive reasons, companies that have never admitted or been convicted of wrongdoing, are duly licensed in jurisdictions around the world, and have set the gold standard in the online poker industry for game and financial integrity and player satisfaction,” they said.
The group also noted that the bill does not contain language that would exclude companies or individuals that have clearly operated illegal California-facing casino and sports betting sites and have admitted wrongdoing.
The four said that they believed that all licensees and operators should meet the highest standards of accountability and suitability, but that the job of determining suitability should be left to the existing regulators, the California Gambling Control Commission and the Attorney General's Bureau of Gambling Control.
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders and with members of the Legislature to craft a final bill that will best serve the interests and needs of all Californians– and not just those who would use the Legislature to protect them from fair competition,” the statement concluded.
The bill proposes the legalization of intrastate online poker in California, with federally-recognised California Native American tribes and state-licensed cardrooms eligible to apply for licences. They would be required to pay a licence fee of $5m, and taxed at 5 per cent of gross gaming revenue.