COPA (Calif.) Selects Online Poker Provider

Mousey

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4:30 PM, Jun. 20, 2011 |


While online gambling is still illegal in California, the California Online Poker Association, a coalition backed by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, on Monday said it has selected a company to provide online poker services.

COPA, in addition to its selection of the publicly traded firm Sciplay, said it signed an software licensing pact with Playtech for online poker technology and software.


Terms of the agreement, forged even before a state law has been passed to legalize online gambling ...
 

jod5413

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This is ridiculous, one hand seems to not know what the other hand is doing. I also find it to be funny that on line lotto sites flourish in almost every state that has lottery. These websites encourage you to play lotto games and scratch tickets, Power Ball and Mega Millions.

And yet on line gambling is forbidden. What a world.
 
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jetset

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Assuming that California does legalise online poker; and assuming that the feds let them, it will be interesting to see if there is any interference in the choice of software provider.

If memory serves me correctly Playtech pulled out of US activity after UIGEA, so that should stand in their favour in terms of US enforcement acceptance.

I would imagine a situation not dissimilar to that in Italy and France will evolve whereby a dedicated Playtech poker network serving only California will be set up.

But choosing Playtech is an immediate setback to US Digital, which wants to get into online gambling in the States and was very active in lobbying in the New Jersey legalisation campaign.
 

jstrike

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So if the California law passes, the entire legal game will go to only one software provider? And it's going to be Playtech, and the decision's made by the Morongos?! Who paid who?

Disclaimer: The real reason I'm PO'd here is that I called, emailed and finally went several times to Morongo and other Indian casinos in the area last year, trying to demo our software to them. I wrote the Chief and explained I grew up near their reservation. The Morongos never responded, refused to see me or speak to me about it. Other tribes were at least good enough to write back a pleasant "no thanks". Not the Morongos. After days of hanging around their casino talking to floor men, drinking overpriced drinks and playing blackjack (with a vig, no less) I gave up any hope of getting even a brief hearing from someone in the tribe.

So now they choose Playtech before even knowing they'll get their law passed. The whole damn thing pretty much reeks of corruption.
 

jetset

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The Morongos seem to have plenty of pull alright, or are at least the high profile aspect of COPA, which is a coalition of 29 tribes and I think 31 Californian land card rooms.

There can imo be little doubt that Playtech has the technology, experience and capability to do the job - but so have a number of other companies, and I agree that it is strange that they have been chosen by this particular interest party before the legislation is even passed (COPA has come out in support of Sen. Lou Correa's SB40 bill, one of two seeking to legalise intrastate online poker in California).

However, there's a way to go politically in this, which is at best an agreement between COPA and Playtech as I see it at present - there may be more political wheeling and dealing at both state and federal levels before the game is actually legalised, I think...and that may include choice of software and technology provider.
 

jstrike

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The Morongo band makes two assumptions here. The first is that they'll be allowed to operate their own poker room, or else have control over all the other tribes' choice of provider. That's quite an assumption to make about a huge market that you're not actually a participant in -- Morongo is not currently allowed to operate a card room in the State of California. They can open what they want on Indian land managed by the BIA but that doesn't automatically mean anything viz the State. The second is that the law will be passed in such a way that Playtech and their software meet its requirements. I don't doubt that Playtech has the technical know-how, etc., however generally when we award taxpayer-backed government contracts in this country that grant monopolies to suppliers, we do it through an open bidding process and not through some backroom deal. Or at least, that's how it's supposed to work. No-bid contracts for hundreds of millions per year, handed to a foreign company when we have more software startups in Silicon Valley than the rest of the world combined? Watch out...there's a lawsuit here.
 

jetset

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That's why I say it's early days yet...and the US system is inherently nationalistic in nature and leans toward the protectionist. I'm pretty sure we will see further political argument on this deal.
 

felicie

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Where does it say anything about online gambling? And why is there a non indian operated card room in the town I live in? This is kind of funny though.

"paraphernalia for manufacturing slugs" means the equipment, products, and materials that are intended for use or designed for use in manufacturing, producing, fabricating, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, storing, or concealing a counterfeit facsimile of the chips,"

slugs and drugs chips and dips lol
 

jetset

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I really don't like the way the Correa bill is going - note the new amendments that make players prosecutable:


PLAYERS PENALISED IN NEW CHANGES TO CALIFORNIA ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION BILL (Update)

Sen. Correa's measure will target players as well as unlicensed operators

One of two competing intrastate online poker legalisation bills - SB40 authored by state
Senator Lou Correa and supported by COPA - has widened its licensing possibilities following the latest amendments, reports The Capitol Weekly newspaper.

But it has also introduced penalties for playing on unlicensed online poker sites, including seizure of equipment belonging to players.

The competing bills face a state Senate committee next week, when the merits of each will be considered.

Correa believes his online poker proposal will survive procedural deadlines even if he misses Friday’s policy committee hearing, because back in May he placed an urgency clause on the bill, making it eligible to bypass deadlines that can kill legislative proposals.

His most recent amendments open up the opportunity for more types of companies to offer poker, while more harshly punishing those who break the rules, The Capitol Weekly reports.

Both Correa’s bill and a competing online poker measure, SB45 from Sen. Rod Wright will be heard in the Senate Government Organization Committee on July 12. It will be an informational hearing, and neither bill is currently scheduled to come up for a vote. Sen. Wright is also chair of the committee, and his bill is also protected by an urgency clause, although it was introduced back in December (see previous InfoPowa report).

Among the key new provisions in Correa’s SB 40 is a harsh new punishment that targets players as well as operators, and proclaims that either “operating or playing on an unauthorised website" could result in a $10,000 fine, with violators subjected to “seizure and forfeiture of all personal and real property used in or derived from the operation of or play on an unauthorised website.”

If passed, this would make the Californian law similar to draconian Washington state measures that also specifically target players.

Correa appears to have opened eligibility to become a poker provider in the amendments, too. SB 40 was limited to “up to 3” licenses. The revised bill removes this limit, while stating that there is “no requirement of membership in a coalition; no preferences among eligible entities.” The amended bill opens up eligibility to current gaming tribes and card rooms.

Also new is a $5 million, non-refundable application fee for the state of California. If a bid is approved, much of that money would then count against later payouts to the state. But the high fee is designed to keep less prepared companies from attempting to enter the market, opines the newspaper, noting that the bill still calls for the state to get 10 percent of the take.

However, new provisions seek to frontload this revenue. Entities that apply for a license within 90 days of the bill going into effect would prepay $50 million to the state against their future revenues, while those applying after have to pay $250 million.

SB40 now also includes a federal opt-out provision, allowing California to go its own way if the US federal government passes its own online poker solution, which will presumably include a clause permitting individual state to opt out of any federal measure.

Controversially, there is also provision to protect exclusivity clauses in tribal gaming compacts.

Senator Correa’s decision to open up the eligibility of SB40 has been closely linked with one of its key supporters, the California Online Poker Association, a coalition of Indian tribes and existing Californian card rooms which has come out in support of the Correa bill.

“Absolutely,” said COPA spokesman Ryan Hightower, when asked if his group was still behind the bill. “The entire set of amendments reflects a greater chance for California to earn more income. I think within the next 75 days we’re going to see some movement on the bill, and it’s still in a very good position to pass this year,” he said.

So far the legalisation concept has been the subject of 6 hearings totalling over 15 hours of testimony, and there have been so far unheeded calls to merge the two competing proposals into one cohesive bill.

Among those who oppose the Correa bill is the California Tribal Business Alliance, which claims that the $50 million licence buy-in is just another way tin which COPA seeks to exclude competitors and leave the business to the card rooms and gaming tribes.


Also Frank Fahrenkopf of the AGA confirmed this week at the Madrid conference that his organisation will not support Joe Barton's federal online poker legalisation bill and will instead be launching its own federal bill later this year - want top bet that will be even more protectionistic of Nevada and New Jersey interests and the big land gambling groups?
 

Mousey

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Politicians are sooooo good at cutting off their nose to spite our face. (and that isn't a typo... that's the way I meant to say it. LOL)
 
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