CNIGA, Pala Band of Mission Indians come out in support of latest California i-poker bill

By Alex Hammond
The Californian Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) Chairman Steve Stallings has spoken in favour of Assemblyman Adam Gray’s latest Internet Poker Bill, AB 2863.

“CNIGA was established to promote, protect and preserve the interests of Indian tribes with respect to the conduct of gaming activities. For more than 28 years, CNIGA has focused on Indian casino issues,” Stallings said in a statement to the press.

“However, as technology changed, so did the demographics of today’s gaming patrons. Many don’t want to just sit in front of a slot machine or at a card table. They want a different experience that meets their lifestyles.

“That is why CNIGA issued a set of internet gaming principles to meet the changing times. The principles include establishing consumer safeguards, protecting children and preserving Tribal sovereignty.

“It appears that Assemblyman Gray’s AB 2863 meets those stated principles and we are supportive of Assemblyman Adam Gray’s efforts to allow gaming Tribes the option to adapt to the changing technology.

“CNIGA looks forward to working with the Legislature to ensure meaningful legislation is passed.”

Earlier this week the Pala Band of Mission Indians also offered their support to the proposed bill, confirming that they are behind Assemblyman Gray.

“The conclusion of Internet Poker legislation will bring a number of benefits to the state of California ,” said Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians.

“Those benefits would include: a regulated online gaming market that would ensure consumer interests are protected; the creation of jobs that will come with the introduction of a new gaming product and a number of new sources of revenue. The Pala Band of Mission Indians will continue to work toward concluding Internet Poker Legislation in 2016.”

These statements are somewhat contrasting from some of the opinion within the Tribal gaming community about the regulation of online gambling across the US. Tribes with the most successful casinos are wary of cannibalising the gambling market by using regulation to carve out niche online gambling markets such as poker or in particular Daily Fantasy Sports, arguing that the unintended consequences of this carving could open the door to unrelated products that could directly compete with Tribal Gaming.

For other tribes, however, where revenue figures are in decline and the prospect of dwindling brick and mortar customers and millennials turning their backs on traditional land-based casino offerings altogether is quickly becoming a reality, the prospect of any regulated online gambling is good news.

AB 2863 was introduced on 19th February. The bill has many similarities to previous attempts to legalise online poker in California, but with a key difference that California’s racetracks would be excluded from operating in the poker industry, and in exchange would be given 95% of the first $60m collected from i-poker operations. The other 5 percent would go to the State Treasury.

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