Negreanu, Somerville Coming To California To Promote Poker

PokerStars Hosting California Online Poker Demo In Capitol During Week Of Key Hearing, Conference

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Update 5/19: The location has been changed, see below.

PokerStars is bringing the big guns to California.

Two of the site’s most recognizable faces (at least for the American audience) will be in California’s capitol city this week, as Jason Somerville and Daniel Negreanu will host a live demo at the Legislative Office Building, 1020 N Street, Hearing Rm. 100 from 10:30 – 11:30.

The original location for the demo was the Sheraton.

The demonstration, which will include the chance to play against the pros (play-money, of course), will come just one day after a joint Senate / Assembly informational hearing for online poker and will occur in parallel with the Capitol Weekly California Gaming Conference.

That conference is expected to bring together key stakeholders in California’s online poker debate and should provide an interesting vantage point for the impact of the previous day’s hearing.

Per a presser announcing the PokerStars event:

Efforts to authorize and regulate online poker have more momentum this year than ever before. To give people a better idea of what exactly online poker looks like and to better understand the consumer protections in place, PokerStars is hosting an online demonstration with Play-For-Fun poker play in Sacramento on Thursday, May 21. No gambling – bragging rights only. Laptops will be provided to play online.

Effort comes amid uncertainty for California online poker

The demonstration – which lacks a prior precedent in California to my recollection – comes at a critical time for online poker in California.

It increasingly appears as if true consensus on the two issues most often publicly identified as the primary sticking points – the participation of tracks and so-called “bad actors” – will remain elusive.

If that’s the case, then it appears we’re heading to a political showdown between two sides with substantial (albeit ultimately unquantifiable) clout.

Hints of that impending showdown have emerged recently via an editorial in the LA Times and an op-ed in the U-T San Diego by Rincon Chairman Bo Mazzetti.

California – looking ahead

Additional scheduled hearings

6/24/2015, 1:30 p.m. (Joint Assembly / Senate GO)  — Informational hearing: “The Legality of Internet Poker–How Prepared is California to Regulate It?”

Another informational hearing in front of the joint GO. Again, the hearing does not address any specific bill or result in a vote.

I’d expect a lineup and focus relatively similar to the hearing conducted last year. I’d also expect a lot of track to be laid regarding the needs and wants of the various agencies that would be involved in regulating online poker.

Critically, this hearing will provide one of the last, best chances to take the temperature of the various stakeholders and to handicap progress toward consensus.

7/8/15, 1:30 p.m. (Assembly GO)  — AB 9 Gatto; AB 167 Jones–Sawyer.

Arguably the most critical of the group as it could provide a sense of what – if any – final bill is emerging from the process. While the meeting is currently scheduled to cover AB 9 and AB 167, that could change – as could the content of the two bills in the months between then and now.

Other key dates

Most of the legislative deadlines below are softer than they appear, with lawmakers having a variety of procedural tools at their disposal to work around the calendar.

So the dates below are less a collection of drop-dead dates (save for the final one, of course) and more of a collection of dates to watch for activity that might indicate progress – or a lack thereof.

  • May 22 – June 7: No policy committee meetings.
  • June 5: Last day to pass bills out of house of origin.
  • July 17: Summer recess begins.
  • August 17: Recess ends.
  • August 31: End of committee meetings, except for Rules and Conference Committees.
  • September 4: Last day to amend bills on floor.
  • September 11: Last day for any bill to be passed.

Read all of our California coverage here.

- 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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