While both of the online poker bills proposed in California’s 2014 legislative session excluded horse racing interests, expect that to change in 2015.
The state’s powerful Indian tribes have long been opposed to horsemen being a part of the Golden State’s ipoker scheme, but indications are that their stance may be softening in that regard. The latest rumors point to the likelihood that a bill being readied for introduction in December by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer will include horsemen.
While the 2014 proposals by Jones-Sawyer and Sen. Lou Correa that excluded the racing industry were being bandied about in the early part of the legislative session before being shelved last month, nary a peep was heard from the horse racing crowd. The reason behind the silence was that the horsemen knew that the tribes themselves continued bickering as to the language and direction of online poker legislation.
After the tribes were able to find common ground, horse racing honchos stepped in and mentioned the possibility of legal action were they to be excluded from the Internet poker conversation. Tribes have seemingly taken those threats seriously and appear more willing than ever before to reach some sort of compromise.
Racetracks Have Online Gaming Experience
It’s worthwhile to note that Internet gambling on horse races has been offered and accepted by the racetracks for more than 10 years. As such, horsemen do have considerable online wagering experience that can likely be put to good use for the benefit of Internet poker as well.
Consumer protections that include keeping problem gamblers and minors from placing bets online are old hat to the horse racing industry. Complying with state regulations can be added to that mix.
It’s a safe bet to assume that the tracks wouldn’t mind sharing that Internet expertise with tribes and cardrooms in order to make the state’s online poker regime a smashing success. It’s quite apparent, after half a decade of ipoker proposals in California never even reaching a vote by lawmakers, that all of the state’s gaming interests must be included in any Internet poker scheme.
The tribes had long argued that including racetracks in online poker regulation goes against the tribal exclusivity enjoyed via state statutes pertaining to the rights of those tribes. However, it appears that the tribes now realize that that argument is rather weak, considering that online poker is a new form of gaming and that the racetracks have already been involved with accepting online wagers on horse races for over a decade.