Update: An earlier version of this article placed the date for the hearing as April 21. The date has changed to April 27.
The California Assembly Governmental Organization Committee is planning to hold an informational hearing on Assemblyman Adam Gray’s online poker bill, AB 2863, Wednesday, April 27, according to sources close to the situation.
A GO Committee hearing is already scheduled on that date, but AB 2863 doesn’t appear on the current agenda.
On Wednesday, the PokerStars coalition sent a letter of support for AB 2863 to Adam Gray, in which the coalition states in part
“… we write in support of your AB 2863, your bill to protect consumers, create jobs, and strengthen our state’s economy by authorizing and regulating intrastate, Internet Poker in California.”
The full letter can be read here or at the end of the this column.
While almost entirely praiseful of Gray’s yeoman-like efforts on the online poker front, the coalition does express concern with one aspect of the bill in its letter – but it’s not the proposed subsidy for the horse racing industry.
Rather it’s an unknown element of the bill that seems to limit PokerStars’ ability to leverage its old California database:
“Our coalition does have some concerns with the bill as drafted and proposed amendments that we have seen. Namely, we are concerned about provisions that would restrict the ability to use customer databases, as that will only serve to stunt the growth of the iPoker market and the revenues available to the state.”
On behalf of a broad coalition of tribal governments, card clubs and online operators, we write in support of your AB 2863, your bill to protect consumers, create jobs, and strengthen our state’s economy by authorizing and regulating intrastate, Internet Poker in California. Authorizing online poker will be good for millions of consumers and poker players who will benefit from a safe, regulated, commercial gaming environment where they are protected and assured that the games are fair and honest.
We are proud to support this bill which would establish a vibrant, competitive marketplace, provide superior consumer protections, require strict oversight and regulation of licensees and service providers, and ensure that the state receives a reasonable return.
Our coalition has worked closely with legislators and other interested parties to thoroughly vet this policy issue since 2008. After years of research and deliberation, your leadership has produced a bill with broad support from California’s Indian tribes, the larger gaming community, and internet poker players. We are optimistic that with your continued leadership and direct consultations with interested parties, this comprehensive piece of legislation can reach Governor Brown’s desk and earn his signature.
As you know, there have been many informational hearings over the last 9 years in the Senate on this subject matter and we appreciate your informational hearing last summer in the Assembly that brought a cross‐section of stakeholders to the Capitol to engage in a thoughtful discussion. With this extensive deliberation and dialogue, the major roadblocks that have prevented iPoker legislation from moving forward have now been resolved.
We also appreciate your inclusive, transparent approach for getting all parties to dialogue. We are confident the few remaining issues can be resolved and an agreement can be reached to finalize AB 2863 as it moves through the legislative process.
Our coalition does have some concerns with the bill as drafted and proposed amendments that we have seen. Namely, we are concerned about provisions that would restrict the ability to use customer databases, as that will only serve to stunt the growth of the iPoker market and the revenues available to the state.
Nonetheless, we support AB 2863 and look forward to working with you, your staff and all interested parties to move this bill through the legislative process without delay. Every year that California fails to act not only puts consumers at risk while playing online games from unregulated offshore localities that provide few protections, but our state also loses out on collecting hundreds of millions of dollars that can be used for essential programs like public schools, public safety, healthcare and social services.
Again, thank you for introducing this much needed legislation.
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
Morongo Band of Mission Indians
Hawaiian Gardens Casino