The Western Indian Gaming Conference (WIGC), is currently being held in Valley Center, California. The conference, which is hosted by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, is the forum for decision-making by tribes involved in the gaming and casino industry. A hot topic at this year’s conference has been whether or not California should be able to add poker to their online advance wagering sites. Also up for discussion is participation by ‘bad actors’, among them, Amaya Gaming owned Pokerstars. All this comes after the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act 2015 (AB9) was introduced earlier in the year. The Act is a variation on a draft bill submitted by 13 of California’s recognized Indian tribes. One tribe, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has switched sides since the summer drafting of the bill.
There are apparently three groups that have formed during the 20th WIGC. The first, comprising the San Manuel Band, and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians supports including both previous bad actors such as Pokerstars and racetracks in the new bill. They support an updated bill, submitted by Reggie Jones-Sawyer, AB 167. Second are those opposing the bill. They include the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Agua Callente Band of Cahuilla Indians. They support the AB9 legislation to the letter.
As always, there are those who are undecided. The Pala Band of Luiseno Indians, the United Auburn Indian Community and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians. Each of these tribes has a relationship with online gaming operators of some kind and are juggling their opinions regarding the language of the bill. Bo Mazzetti, chairman of the Rincon Band, informed participants that there needed to be give and take by all tribes, as there would always be some parts of the legislation that was not liked by everyone in attendance. Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Band echoed Mazzetti’s words, saying that comprimise was essential in order to get the job done. The Band’s attorney, George Forman, said that there were ways to include Pokerstars, while still keeping out the real bad actors.