Steve Ruddock San Diego CA NIGA

Having trouble keeping up with all of the latest news and information pertaining to California online poker?

Fear not – our bi-weekly recap on California’s efforts to pass an online poker bill has you covered.

NIGA rundown

San Diego recently played host to the annual National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, and in addition to the usual networking and positive outlooks from the attendees, there was actually quite a bit of news coming out the convention this year, and big news at that.

Here are the highlights from the 30th annual NIGA convention as it relates to California online poker.

Backroom deals?

Commented editor Victor Rocha about potential backdoor deals between Sheldon Adelson and PokerStars, “They’re trying to make backdoor deals with PokerStars. David Baazov told me this himself.”

Rocha made the statement during a panel discussion before walking it back a bit in a follow-up statement to Chad Holloway, “I don’t think they’re trying [now].”

Is Pechanga softening its stance on CA online poker?

The revelation that the Morongo and Pechanga tribes met at the convention might mean that they have made some headway on how to move forward with online poker in California. Or maybe not.

More on this in the next header.

DFS is everywhere

DFS is still hot in the streets. Disney, Sirius XM, Amaya, and other big names are exploring the space, and it seems that DFS is even getting a lot of attention among gaming tribes.

You really can’t talk online gambling in the U.S. in 2015 without DFS coming up, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that DFS was a pretty big focal point at NIGA. Tribes potentially dipping their toes in the DFS waters is definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward.

If you’re curious about the growth of DFS you can bookmark for all the latest DFS news and information.

Rock idol

Oh, and Eilers Research analyst and DFS guru Adam Krejcik playing with Victor Rocha’s band is without doubt THE highlight of the convention:

To keep up to date on the latest California gaming news follow Victor Rocha on Twitter.’s Chad Holloway made the trip to San Diego (poor guy having to go to San Diego in early April) for the NIGA convention and posted an excellent summary of these topics and more here.

Does Pechanga have a new stance?

As noted above, one of the biggest developments that occurred at NIGA was a closed door meeting between several tribes, including the powerful Morongo and Pechanga. The two tribes have been at odds since the Morongos (and later San Manuel) partnered with PokerStars if and when California passes an online poker  bill.

Pechanga has been a longtime supporter of bad actor/tainted asset clauses, which would keep PokerStars out of California.

According to Dave Palermo’s reporting of the meeting, the Pechangas seem to have mellowed when it comes to their opposition to PokerStars. According to Palermo, the tribe feels this compromise will allow them [tribes] to work as a unified front to get a bill passed even if it doesn’t allow racetracks a piece of the pie.

There has been some pushback on this analysis, with one anonymous source, who claims to have been at the meeting, telling Haley Hintze of, that the idea a  tribal compromise is in the works is “all spin,” and a case of, “Pechanga trying to control the narrative.”

Even if a compromise is reached among the tribes in regards to PokerStars and bad actor/tainted asset clauses, most believe it will still not be enough to push a bill through the legislature if that bill shuts out racetracks.

Even fewer believe Governor Jerry Brown would sign the bill. Based on previous comments he has made, Brown has indicated he would only sign an online gambling bill that had the blessing of the racing industry.

Legislature back in session

The California legislature is back in session after their Easter holiday break, but the Governmental Organization Committees in both the Assembly and the State Senate still haven’t scheduled an online poker hearing, despite having four bills (three in the Assembly and one on the Senate) to choose from.

So, while online poker remains a very hot topic outside the legislature, in Sacramento it seems to be a back burner issue.

California’s online poker bills:

California online poker “Reads of the Week”

Pechanga Group Says Tribes, PokerStars Could Trump Tracks On iPoker

Suggested Possible Pechanga-PokerStars Coalition Building in California: “Completely False”

Ground Continues To Shift In California Online Poker Debate

California Race Tracks “Deserve Seat” At The Online Poker Table, Says Del Mar COO

Impressions from 2015 NIGA Conference Part I: DFS, PokerStars, and iGaming Expansion

Steve Ruddock
Steve Ruddock - Steve is one of the most recognizable names in the online poker media space. He brings his deep knowledge and equally deep well of opinions to his coverage at