California’s powerful tribal interest are dead set on keeping PokerStars out of the Golden State online gambling market.

Recently, a seven-tribe coalition called for lawmakers to impose a 10-year ban and a $60 million fine on the online poker behemoth before allowing it to enter the regulated California online gambling market. (The fact that there is currently no regulated California online gambling market tells you how badly PokerStars scares the coalition.)

The coalition, led by members of the Pechanga and Agua Caliente bands, says PokerStars should be punished for serving California players after the 2006 imposition of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).

While the coalition’s demands may sound harsh to those outside the industry, the idea actually has some support from lawmakers. According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, Assemblyman Adam Gray has already called for a 5-year PokerStars ban.

In his version, however, the Quebec-based company could do an end-run around the ban by paying out $20 million in fines. As large as that amounts sounds, it simply wasn’t enough to please the tribal coalition, which maintains $20 million would not cause enough pain to a company with as many assets as Amaya.

PokerStars, and its current owner Amaya Gaming, has already paid a dear price for its years as a bad actor. The company’s violation of the UIGEA, which pre-dates Amaya’s ownership, cost it a five-year ban from the Nevada online gambling market. (Of course it also cost Amaya billions of dollars when the company first purchased PokerStars’ assets from the Department of Justice.)

Tribal gaming interests have been working very hard to keep regulated online gambling from Californians, so their latest efforts don’t come as much of a surprise. At this point, the only thing that would be surprising is if California lawmakers pass an online poker bill anytime in the near future.


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