California’s Online Poker Bill Is Dead; What’s Next?

sealofCaliforniaFor all intents and purposes the proposed California online poker bills are officially dead according to one of the sponsors and a coalition of tribes in California.

With time running out on the legislative session there was little chance an iPoker bill could be passed, but recent comments leave little doubt that 2014 is off the table.

Senator Lou Correa, who introduced SB 1366 earlier this year, told the LA Times on Wednesday that there simply wasn’t enough time to get a bill passed due to the continued disagreements among the varied interests in the state. “Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it’s done right,” Correa told the Times, intimating that too many major changes would be needed to pass a bill, and the proper diligence could not be done if these changes were to be made.

Correa’s statements were echoed by the coalition of 13 tribes who coalesced earlier this year around their opposition to PokerStars being included in the prospective industry. In a statement sent to the tribes stated in part:

Instilling public confidence in the integrity of State-sanctioned Internet poker is a fundamental principle of ours… 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.

With these politically powerful tribes pulling their support for a 2014 online poker bill California is left with no conceivable path forward this year, although there is still a single loose end that needs to be tied up: Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer’s bill, AB 2291.

But as Victor Rocha, the Editor of stated on Twitter:


2015 and beyond

All eyes will now turn to the next legislative session where online poker is once again expected to be addressed.

There are likely to be several serious changes to the landscape, as PokerStars is expected to be licensed in New Jersey in the coming weeks (which would make keeping them out of California under the auspices of a Bad Actor/Tainted Asset clause more problematic), and we also have the unresolved issue of the Santa Ysabel tribe who have stated their plans to launch an online poker room without legislation from the state.

Add in the still unresolved issue of the exclusion of race tracks and smaller card rooms and tribes, and 2015 looks to be just as contentious as 2014.


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