California Online Poker On Hold Until 2015

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Supporters of regulated online poker in California saw hopes for this year dim to dark with news that key stakeholders are apparently abandoning the issue in the waning days of the 2014 session.

State Senator Lou Correa was first to signal the death of online poker’s chances in the current session when he tabled his bill (SB 1366) to regulate the activity.

Explaining his rationale to the LA Times, Correa said: “Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it’s done right.”

A powerful coalition of 13 tribes with gaming interests in California subsequently echoed Correa’s sentiments with the following statement:

Our tribal governments have been deliberate and methodical in developing proposed legislation that would strictly regulate and limit Internet poker in California.

Instilling public confidence in the integrity of State-sanctioned Internet poker is a fundamental principle of ours. To that end and in consultation with the bill authors, our tribal leaders have concluded that rushing a bill in the closing days of this legislative session will not allow for the level of careful public examination and confidence an issue of this magnitude requires.

We look forward to continuing the work with legislators, regulators, and stakeholders on a bill that can be brought before the Legislature in 2015.

A similar bill in the Assembly, sponsored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (AB 2291), is effectively dead, as a Jones-Sawyer rep confirmed to PokerNews.

New online poker bill coming in December

Jones-Sawyer’s office told PokerNews that a new online poker bill will be the Assemblymember’s first priority when California lawmakers return to work in December.

The substance of that bill will remain in flux from now until then, although one assumes the starting point would be the unified bill language proposed weeks ago by the coalition of 13 tribes.

Unresolved issues reportedly include:

  • The role of California’s tracks in a regulated online poker industry.
  • The scope of tribal inclusion.
  • A handful of nuts-and-bolts issues, primarily concerning taxation and other revenue-related elements.

Some of the issues are said to be ultimately resolvable and simply require more time to navigate the typical legislative process. Others – especially the issue of tracks – have murkier paths to resolution.

- Chris is the publisher of Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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