California online poker players just got slow-rolled by the tribal website that had promised to open for business by Thursday. PrivateTable.com, the online poker site of the federally recognized Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in San Diego County, is currently offering free-play poker but had promised to launch real-money play to California adults “sometime between the 26th and 28th of August.”
On Thursday, CaliforniaOnlinePoker.com scribe John Mehaffey reported that a PrivateTable representative had told him the launch had been pushed back a week. The site insists that it will process all online payments via FinPay, the processor whose CEO Chris Wolfington formerly ran a land-based casino processor that filed for bankruptcy in March, allegedly stiffing two tribes for over $10m. The Finpay.net site is now accepting account registrations.
It remains to be seen how California’s other tribes will react to PrivateTable’s real-money launch. A coalition of some of the state’s more powerful tribes saw their latest online poker legislative effort fall short (again) earlier this month, but online poker’s chief political sponsor is vowing to try extra double super hard when the legislature reconvenes.
This week, OnlinePokerReport.com published a statement from Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer’s office saying his AB 2291 bill’s failure to advance was because the Department of Justice and the California Gaming Commission hadn’t been given enough time to “review the language and make relevant recommendations” on the bill’s regulatory structure. Jones-Sawyer (pictured) vowed to introduce a new bill at the start of the 2015-16 legislative session.
In the meantime, Jones-Sawyer says he plans to continue the dialogue with “all the interested principals” to work out who gets to offer online poker. Federally recognized tribes? Check. Licensed cardrooms? Check. Racetracks? Mabye. PokerStars? Well… Jones-Sawyer didn’t actually come out and say ‘hell, no’ but he did say he would ensure that his bill’s ‘bad actor’ language “is written so that it is applied fairly and avoids any possible future legal challenges.”
Since Stars’ technology partners at the Morongo Band of Mission Indians are the only entity to date to threaten a legal challenge of any legislative attempt to keep Stars out of California, it suggests that Jones-Sawyer is either attempting to figure out ways to dock-block the Morongo’s lawyers or to pacify them by removing legislative obstacles in Stars’ path (and thus relying on regulators to keep Stars out). Whichever way he goes, the legislature reconvenes on Dec. 1, meaning Jones-Sawyer can likely use his new bill as a Christmas present for that special tribe(s) on his list.