Prior to 2017, California was deemed the next state that would legalize online poker, but lately, the prognosis that this forecast will materialize is bleak. In fact, only Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey have legalized online poker gaming. The shift in the high percentage chance that California would legalize gambling to the less than 50 percent chance that prognosticators give the chances that California will legalize online poker gambling today is due to the series of indictments termed the Black Friday indictment. This is according to Steve Stallings. Stallings is the chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.
The effort to legalize online poker gaming in California was being led by PokerStars.
PokerStars is one of the leading purveyors of online poker gambling. PokerStars is a subsidiary of Canada’s Amaya Inc, and it along with land-based gambling organizations Bicycle, Commerce and Hawaii Gardens Casino made the push to get this form of online gambling legalized in California. This consortium was gathered to show that these land-based organizations were not opposed to this form of gambling in the Golden State and that they and practically every other operator supported lifting the ban that is in place currently including the San Manuel and Morongo Bands of Mission Indians.
However, in spite of the approval from those Indian boards, other boards were vehemently opposed to the idea of allowing Amaya to operate in this capacity, and they mounted sufficient push back against the Amaya expansion citing Amaya’s continued operation in the state after the Black Friday ban. These Indian Boards argue that this continued illegal operation gave the Amaya operation an undue advantage in market share over operations that complied with the ban including theirs.
Even as recently as a few month past, Amaya and some of their supporting organizations have been involved in some form if not directly in several investigations, and as a result, they have had to scale back attempts at getting the appropriate legislation passed during this year’s legislative session. Their recent issues started with their association to Bicycle casino because this casino was implicated in money laundering schemes that were being investigated by federal authorities.
However, these secondary issues paled in comparison to the indictment incurred by Amaya’s then chairman and CEO David Baazoy in severely retarding their chances. Baazoy was charged with insider trading along with other fellow criminal insiders. Amaya’s attempt to gain separation from the CEO’s nefarious illegal actions were unsuccessful thereby dimming the company’s considerable hopes of attaining the passage of their proposed beneficial legislation.
These diminished hopes have caused Amaya to focus on its online casino and sportsbooks operations which are not included in the losing legislation’s language. However, Amaya has not abandoned all opportunities in this space. The company has recently focused on gaining entry into this booming market by providing their innovative software gaming platforms to certain tribal casinos operating legally in the space. Additionally, this signals their continued push to participate in California’s $4 billion gaming industry.