California Committee Set to Weigh in on Online Poker Debate

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Robert DellaFave

California Committee Set to Weigh in on Online Poker DebateCalifornia’s entry into the regulated iGaming market would hail a historic win for the poker industry.

Tomorrow, the California State Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Organization will take an intimate look at the viability of and difficulties surrounding regulating online poker. Set to take place at 1:00 pm PDT, the hearing is entitled Public Policy and Fiscal Implications of Authorizing Intrastate Internet Poker in California.

The full breadth of the hearing can be streamed live from the Assembly Room’s dedicated website.

Topics of Discussion

As inferred by the heading, California’s state legislators are likely to discuss a bevy of topics at the hearing, including the potential revenue returns of a regulated poker market. In particular, officials are expected to debate the fiscal implications of California’s two proposed iGaming bills – AB 2291 and SB 1366 – should one of them be inked into law.

Also up for discussion will be PokerStars and the tactics the company has employed to solidify its place in the U.S. industry.

Last month, it was reported that PokerStars aligned with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and several undisclosed card rooms, with the hopes of preventing any state bill from invoking a bad actor clause against the company. Should PokerStars achieve its aims, it would face a less difficult road towards licensure.

Despite several attempts to integrate itself in New Jersey’s iGaming market, PokerStars’ application was ultimately suspended by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement for a period of two years. Never one to rest on its laurels, PokerStars now has its eye on a much bigger prize in California and its 38 million inhabitants. California is arguably the only state in the United States where a regulated gaming market could flourish without an interstate compact in place.

In response to the supposed agreement between the Morongo and PokerStars, approximately a dozen other state tribes forged a Joint Tribal Statement on iPoker Bad Actors, opposing PokerStars attempted entry into the state’s potential iGaming arena.

California’s Online Poker Bills

AB 2291 was first introduced by state Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-59) in late-February. It has received the backing of a multitude of tribes, including the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. The poker-only bill establishes a framework to authorize intrastate only iPoker. Those hoping to become gaming operators would be forced to pay a hefty $5 million license fee. Licenses would be good for 10 years, and regulatory committees would be tasked with outlining full regulations within 270 of the bill’s passage.

SB 1366 is essentially a reproduction of a bill first introduced by State Senator Lou Correa (D-34). It has received the backing of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Notably, SB 1366 explicitly states that any U.S players in the market post-UIGEA would be automatically banned from licensure.

What to Expect

Tomorrow’s hearing is only the first step towards ironing out the many issues that have prevented regulated online poker from becoming a reality. Political and tribal infighting, bad actor clauses and tax rates are just a few of the debates that have stifled progression thus far.

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