UPDATE: The Governmental Organization Committee has officially scheduled the online poker hearing for April 27 at 1:30pm.
Supporters of regulating online poker play in California are looking to throw a legislative Heil Mary on Adolf Hitler’s birthday, according to media reports.
On Tuesday, CardPlayer’s Brian Pempus quoted California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) chairman Steve Stallings saying an amended version of state Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 2863 online poker bill would get a committee hearing by the end of this month.
On Wednesday, OnlinePokerReport’s Steve Ruddock got more specific, quoting sources saying the Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee would hold an informational hearing on Gray’s legislation on April 20, although AB 2863 isn’t yet listed on the agenda for next Wednesday’s hearing.
Frankly, we can’t think of a more auspicious date on which to sing online poker’s praises, given that April 20 would have been Adolf Hitler’s 127th birthday. After all, who can forget Hitler’s gutsy but ill-advised decision to go all-in with a 2-7 off-suit against Stalin’s aces at the 1942 EPT Stalingrad?
April 20 is also noted for its association with cannabis consumption, so hopefully the hearing runs overlong and extends past 4:20pm. Bottom line: if everyone really wants California’s poker stars to align, we strongly suggest you show up wearing a brown shirt and carrying a large and prodigiously packed bong (bonus points if it’s shaped like a panzerfaust). Guaranteed to send the right message, we promise.
DEAR ADAM: HAVE YOU LOST WEIGHT?
Wednesday was also notable for the release of a letter to Gray signed by the coalition of tribal governments and card rooms that have aligned themselves with Amaya Gaming and its PokerStars brand.
The letter gets right to the point, recalling how much the coalition members enjoyed Gray’s previous online poker hearings, and how much they’re looking forward to his next shindig. The letter heaps praise on Gray’s leadership skillz, and basically concludes that Gray is probably the nicest, smartest and most handsome man ever to sit in the Assembly.
The coalition did express concern over AB 2863’s proposed restrictions on state-licensed online poker operators’ use of customer databases, which the coalition believes “will only serve to stunt the growth of the iPoker market and the revenues available to the state.” Seems Amaya believes its five-year-old California player database still has some value.
AMAYA INSIDER TRADING CHARGES ADD DIRT TO ALREADY MUDDY WATERS
California’s poker push has been complicated by the insider trading charges filed last month against Amaya CEO David Baazov. Last week, California gaming scribe Dave Palermo quoted tribal lobbyist David Quintana saying the charges suggested that Amaya/PokerStars “are even dirtier than we thought they were.”
The ‘we’ Quintana referred to is the so-called Pechanga-Led coalition of tribes opposed to PokerStars’ participation in California’s regulated market based on the site’s ‘bad actor’ status (for serving US residents without US permission). Earlier this year, Quintana had vowed that the Pechanga coalition would insist on resolving the bad actor issue before Gray’s legislation got anywhere near the Assembly floor.
The insider trading issue also reportedly caused rifts within PokerStars’ California coalition. According to Palermo, Lynn Valbuena, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, told stakeholders two weeks ago that the tribe had “deep concerns” about the Amaya revelations.
Whatever Valbuena’s concerns, the San Manuel Band was listed among the signatories in this week’s letter to Gray, so, for the moment, at least, the coalition appears to be holding. But heaven help the coalition’s cause if further revelations are forthcoming.