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California Online Poker Progress On Hold

10 September 2014 by Devon Chappell

After a 5-year continuation of one unsuccessful attempt after another to legalize online poker in California – the once considered most favorable state to enter the online gambling market in the US – proponents are once again scratching their collective heads wondering when and if.

One of two bills that have been created in an effort to legalize online poker play in California was put on hold recently, with several lawmakers taking the position there was not enough time left before the current 2014 legislative session to make changes to the law and add further meticulous standards required to get the bill passed successfully through the House.

The delayed bill, SB 1366, was drafted by Senator Lou Correa, who happens to be the chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee (the same committee that oversees gambling in the State), has seen a tough battle in regards to interstate compacts and tribal casinos.

AB 2291 is the other bill, and us widely considered by industry insiders as an answer to most everything that initial goals failed to use in persuading a positive outcome from the get-go. It seeks to permit and regulate online poker legislation, and is currently waiting a hearing date.

Three US states are already live with websites offering a variety of online casino games. California is seeking online poker legislature only at this point. California was initially considered to be one of the top three states to legislate, yet roadblocks from tribal communities looking to stave off land-based gaming failure should online casinos become legal, as well as disagreements over interstate game play, have gotten in the way of any legislative success at this time. Now we wait once again.

Still, there is room for optimism, as there are several lawmakers in favor of online poker. But whether they will get a bill passed before succumbing to opposition and political pressure from the other side of the house floor is of some concern.

The bottom line is that the main failure in getting a bill passed stems from various arguments over specifics in the two existing bills. Lingering issues between lawmakers and several casinos and poker sites that operated within California before authorities cracked down on them remain. Bad actor clauses are being considered to ensure sites that operated improperly before the crackdown are not permitted to legally operate in the state, and is creating a lot of argument.

California’s tribal casinos are the other main roadblock. There are dozens of land-based tribal casinos in the state of California which provide all the gambling services available in the state. Understandably, they are very concerned that online poker sites will greatly affect the revenue generated at these brick ‘n mortar casinos.

Earlier in this year, the outcome of a bill getting passed seemed very probable. Then, waning income and less-than-stellar earnings from existing online casinos in the US led to a slower urgency to get a bill passed. While in wait, California lawmakers will certainly be keeping close tabs on the online casino operators in the three states where online gambling is regulated. We are likely looking to the very beginning of 2015 before any bill could get a casino online in California.

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