You’ve heard the expression, “If Mamma’s not happy, no one is happy,” right? Well, when it comes to California online poker bills, “If tribal gaming interests aren’t happy, no one is happy.”

Once again, the Golden State’s most powerful Indian gaming coalition is getting ready to tank an online poker bill that doesn’t fully serve their interests.

According to a report posted yesterday on, California’s biggest tribes sent a letter to lawmakers expressing their disappointments with and concerns over the state’s latest attempt at regulating online poker.

At the core of the tribes’ complaints are the issues of so-called, “bad actors,” and the state’s desire to allow horse tracks to act as online poker operators.

On the issue of horse tracks, tribal leaders point out that California voters have rejected bills expanding horse track gambling in the past.

But their biggest beef, and this is what most of the letter covers, is the issue of allowing operators who took US action after 2006 to work in the Cali market.

The bad actor issue has popped up every time a state has considered offering online poker, but it’s been especially contentious in California. That’s because smaller, less powerful, tribes have entered into arrangements with companies like PokerStars, who the bad actor clause is aimed at stopping.

Powerful tribes like the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians from Palm Springs with established land casinos are not especially interested in seeing smaller tribes level the field by working with big-time online interests. That, it seems, is their biggest issue with bad actors.

In the letter, Indian leaders call the bill, “fatally flawed,” and ask lawmakers to go back to the drawing board and try again. Given the power of the Indian gaming lobby in California, that’s what’s almost certain to happen.

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