The latest changes to California’s Internet poker bill call for online gaming companies who facilitated poker games for Americans between 2006 and 2011 to be excluded from the Golden State market for five years, according to a report from The Los Angeles Times.

The amendment would prevent PokerStars, which has roughly 70 percent of the worldwide online poker market, from being involved right out of the gate in what is considered the nation’s largest online poker market. PokerStars facilitated games for Americans until 2011, before the federal government indicted its former owners. The company settled without admitting to any wrongdoing, then was sold to Amaya Gaming for $4.9 billion.

Though PokerStars has partnered with the Morongo and San Manuel Mission Indians, as well as the Commerce Casino, Bicycle Casino and Hawaiian Gardens, for online poker should it become legal, some politically powerful tribes, which formed a group known as the Pechanga coalition, have opposed any involvement by PokerStars. The five-year exclusion period reportedly is being touted as a compromise to appease the Pechanga coalition.

“This deal should secure two-thirds [vote] in the Assembly,” Assemblymember Adam Gray’s office reportedly said. Should the vote happen in the Assembly, and should it be a favorable one, the bill would move to the Senate for consideration. But there’s only about two weeks left in the legislative session.

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León was quoted just weeks ago as saying that he is “not in a rush” to regulate real-money online poker sites licensed by the state of California. But the recent amendments could change things. Gray’s office said that it expects the amended bill to actually be “fairly well received in the Senate.”

It would be long overdue, as California lawmakers looked at online poker for about a decade, with little material progress during that time span.

The bill, AB 2863, passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee in June and since then has been waiting for consideration by the full Assembly.

PokerStars has been lobbying in favor of past versions. Most recently, poker pro Jason Somerville, who represents the company, appeared on CNBC to urge for regulation.

The online poker giant is currently involved with regulated I-casino gaming in New Jersey. PokerStars has more than 40 percent of the web poker market in the Garden State. State officials there are considering teaming up with the United Kingdom to share liquidity for online poker.

Last week, PokerStars’ parent said that David Baazov is completely out from the company. Baazov was charged in March with insider trading, a development that was mentioned in one of California’s online poker hearings this year.




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