Hearing on Online Poker in California Set for Tomorrow

Hearing on Online Poker in CaliforniaThe California State Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Organization meets tomorrow to discuss the possibility of introducing online poker in California.

Poker players around the US will be following proceedings in Room 4202 at the California State Assembly tomorrow, when the Committee on Governmental Organization will be discussing the Public Policy and Fiscal Implications of Authorizing Intrastate Internet Poker in California.

Although neither of the two bills currently pending before state legislature are directly scheduled to be discussed, they are likely to be touched upon as members of the GO Committee hear how much money the state could make by approving one or other of the bills.

Why Is Online Poker in California so Important?

Even though both proposals for [geolink href=”https://www.usafriendlypokersites.com/california/”]legal online poker in California[/geolink] are in favor of “intrastate” poker – meaning that players from elsewhere in the United States will not be able to compete on California´s virtual felt – the feeling is that other States around the country will be inclined to follow the Golden State´s lead.

This would have significant implications for States who are sitting on the fence with regard to online poker – either positively or negatively – and possibly even lead to some Federal action; although hopefully not the passing of the Sheldon Adelson backed Graham/Chaffetz anti-online gaming bill.

What´s on the Table in California?

Currently there are two proposed bills on the table in California – AB 2291 and SB 1366. Bill AB 2291 was introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) – who is one of the nineteen members of the GO Committee – and has the backing of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuila Indians.

This is the bill which wants to ban bad actors (read PokerStars) and any independent card rooms not supporting the bill, exclude all other forms of online gambling (slots, bingo, lottery etc) and criminalize playing on any other poker sites not under the control of the Indian tribes – even though online poker in California has never been illegal!

The far more reasonable/less protectionist bill, SB 1366, is sponsored by Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and although it includes a bad actor provision has no specific date to indicate when the actors started acting badly. Bill SB 1366 has the support of both the United Auburn Indian Community and the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Although Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer will be present at the Committee meeting, a positive inclination towards his proposed bill is not guaranteed. Senator Lou Correa is chair of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee which has control of matters related to gambling, horse racing and alcohol (should be called the Entertainments Committee), and whichever bill reaches the next stage, it will need a two-thirds majority in both houses to pass into legislation.

Furthermore, the two bills have widely differing financial implications. Jones-Sawyer´s Bill AB 2291 only allows for a limited number of licenses available at a cost of $5 million each, whereas Correa´s Bill SB 1366 has no limit on the number of websites that can apply for an online poker license – at a cost of $10 million each.

Keep Up-to-Date With the News from California

Online poker players and other interested parties can listen into proceedings by visiting the “Hearings” page of the California State Assembly and clicking on Room 4202. The Committee hearing is scheduled to start at 1:00pm local time, although it is exceptionally unlikely that any decisions will be made during the meeting.

The outcome of the meeting is likely to be a good indication of whether there is any hope of online poker in California during 2014 – something which critics say is unlikely to occur this year due to the California gubernatorial elections which are scheduled for November – and, if you do not have the time to listen to the hearing, check USAfriendlyPokerSites.com on Thursday for a résumé of what was discussed.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett