Ever since the revelation that Amaya CEO David Baazov is facing charges of insider trading in connection with the sale of PokerStars in 2014, there has been speculation as to its impact on California iPoker regulation. We submitted our own thoughts on the matter late last month, even suggesting that the PokerStars Coalition will dissolve if he is convicted.
Last week, Assemblyman Adam Gray’s online poker bill, AB 2863, received a couple of amendments. One of those key amendments will likely reignite the bad actor debate. However, it also may actually allow the bill to move forward as it leaves room for negotiation for all stakeholders.
New Amendment Will Address Bad Actors
Changes to AB 2863 were announced last week. The primary change made to the bill may be a catch-all method of addressing the scandal surrounding Baazov and Amaya. In the first section of the bill, the following amendment was added:
The bill would become operative when criteria are established by statute addressing involvement in Internet betting prior to the state’s authorization of Internet poker pursuant to its provisions.
A similar statement was added later in the bill but carries the same meaning. Essentially, regulators must establish criteria that will deal with bad actors like PokerStars before online poker regulation will begin.
Notice that this language doesn’t allow or ban bad actors, rather it states that criteria must be setup to address them. This is an important distinction because it leaves the door wide open for both interpretation and for negotiation by both parties.
How Things Could Develop From the Point
This new amendment opens the door for this bill to move forward towards a vote because it will satisfy a demand made by the Pechanga back in February calling for impartial language to be added to the bill regarding bad actors.
The amendment indeed contains that impartial language. It also leaves that clause on a potential swivel to allow for whatever happens in the Baazov case. If Baazov is cleared of wrongdoing, then perhaps the PokerStars Coalition and Pechanga can come up with an agreement that favors all parties.
If Baazov is convicted, and don’t discount that potential, then it allows lawmakers to make a iron-clad bad actor clause that gives the Pechanga what they want, the exclusion of PokerStars from Calfornia iPoker.
With this new amendment, there is a good chance this bill emerges from the GO Committee when it meets on April 27. However, from there it will probably go into a holding pattern until we find out the outcome of the Baazov scandal.