Pala Interactive CEO Not Optimistic About Online Poker Passage in 2015

Pala LogoPala Interactive became the first Native American ran company to offer legalized online gambling when they opened in New Jersey in 2014. Now the company is one of the interested stakeholders for legal online poker in California.

CEO Jim Ryan recently sat down for an interview with to discuss the future of online poker in California and the chances of RAWA passing at the congressional level. His candid interview paints a somewhat bleak picture on both issues.

Jim Ryan is no stranger to online poker. He’s been an executive for Excapsa during UltimateBet’s heyday and was previously with bwin.Party. He joined Pala in 2013 after a winter visit to California to meet with management. He was impressed with their strategy and later became the CEO of the company.

Odds for California Passing Online Poker in 2015 is Low

After significant progress in 2014, many online poker analysts figured that California would be a lock for legalization in 2015. Two bills have been introduced but the gridlock between interested stakeholders appears to remain as solid as ever. As such, Ryan believes that there are “low odds of a bill passing in 2015.”

According to Ryan, interested stakeholders need to resolve their respective issues. The two main issues continue to be racetrack involvement and the bad actor clause. Without a resolution to these issues, a bill cannot move forward.

Ryan also points out that stakeholders need to move on this issue prior to Congress possibly passing RAWA. If RAWA were to pass, then it would effectively kill any chance for the state to legalize online poker for the foreseeable future.

Ryan Believes that RAWA Could Pass

Last week, the Restoration of Americas Wire Act (RAWA) was reintroduced at the congressional level. The bill, if passed, would effectively kill the online gambling market in the United States. Ryan believes that RAWA represents “the most significant threat we’ve had post-Black Friday.”

Despite three states legalizing the game and nearly a dozen states having considered online gambling in one form or another, Ryan believes that RAWA has a strong chance of passing due to a Republican-controlled Congress with significant funding coming in from Sheldon Adelson.

The worst part about RAWA is that it strips states of their right to decide whether they want to offer online gambling. If passed, it would effectively reverse the fledgling online poker market in the United States. This means that Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware would have to take their sites offline.

There’s no “opting in” or “opting out” of this law. If passed, it is final. It would also kill any potential to put state lotteries online. Only live lottery sales would be permitted. At its core, this law is the most comprehensive restriction of online gambling in history.

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