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California Delays Online Poker Bill

20 August 2014 by Devon Chappell

After a laborious 5 year span of trying to execute an effective bill to legalize online poker in California, it seems as though another year will slip on by until we see another attempt.

Many industry insiders would argue that it was largely expected that online poker would have a good future with seemingly swift legislature after the US government decided to leave the decision up to individual states for regulation of various forms of online gambling activity. Yet, it all seems practically lost, as attempt after attempt has been unsuccessful to bring forth a viable bill legalizing poker online in California.

Just last week, California lawmakers involved in getting poker legalized online came to the decision that bills in favor of legislation will have to wait it out again. California Senator Lou Correa actually vacated his current bill, SB 1366 altogether, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer has postponed his bill, AB 2291, for the time being.

When various states initially lined up in favor of online wagering activity after being given the green light to legislate, all eyes were on Nevada and its neighbor California, where many gaming insiders believed a business deal largely known as an interstate compact would be created without much delay. California was never in favor of legislating non-skill based games, but a deal to pool poker players from each state would have created extra revenue and make both parties happy.

In the timeline since initial buzz was created and several bills were put forth in California to get the ball rolling, many key topics have caused snags in the plan of California going ahead with online poker legislation. The future in California now depends upon the ability for lawmakers to iron out the hurdles at hand. The next time any possible advancement could take place is now December 2014, effectively making 2015 the next possible year to place any poker wagers online in California.

According to Jones-Sawyer, who is now effectively left holding the bag, the ultimate issue behind the bill’s shelving was that there was no longer enough time in this session to work out the language issue with the bills. He stated that he will have a new bill on the floor in December, essentially giving all stakeholders an additional five months to reflect. Others would say this is a calculated delay by proponents themselves.

There is heavy tribal involvement in the state of California, and it’s is widely expected that tribes will also use this extra delay as time to watch the Amaya deal unfold and learn a thing or two. Watching Amaya’s dealings within the New Jersey online gambling market will be a wise move as it could reveal important information regarding the outcome of PokerStars’ attempt at reentry into the US market via Amaya, which is wrapping up purchase of the largest online poker brand’s parent company.

Also at hand, and referring back to language issues, horse racetracks are involved in the proposed legislature in California. There is a potential for time-consuming legal challenges that could cause further delay with any online casino, gambling or poker legislature should the tracks not be included in the ability to join the market for online gambling in California.

Its is also expected that racing involvement – not necessarily wagering on races – but taking poker bets at tracks online, or any other aspect for that matter, would increase competition; But a racetrack’s overall effect on the market would be meager should PokerStars make its way back into the US fold. If a PokerStars deal is struck, a racetrack deal would inevitably materialize – sooner than later, too.

Until December, we’ll be watching the outcome of PokerStars via Amaya.

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