Online Poker Bill in California to be Reintroduced

Posted on December 14th, 2012 by Todd Wilkins

Online Poker Bill in California to be ReintroducedSen. Roderick Wright may dust off and reintroduce an online poker bill in California before 2012 ends that failed to garner support earlier this year.

Infighting among the Golden State’s card rooms, tribes and horse-racing interests was a major factor in the failure of the measure. SB 1463, a poker-only bill, was yanked from the agenda of a Senate committee meeting by Sen. Wright in June before a vote could be taken. Amendments were made to the proposal by co-sponsors Wright and Sen. Darrell Steinberg in an attempt to win approval from the state’s gaming interests. But the 2012 legislative session concluded in August with SB 1463 still lacking support.

With only a few minor technical changes, Sen. Wright is apparently preparing rumored to be reintroduced next week. This conflicts with a report just a few days ago from eGaming Review that said the bill would be reintroduced at the start of 2013. Sen. Steinberg is reportedly no longer a co-sponsor of the proposal, but he does still lend his support.

Approval of SB 1463 may be somewhat easier since the dissolution of the California Online Poker Association (COPA) in October. That group of 29 tribes and 31 card rooms had offered their own version of a draft online poker bill that sought to preclude horse-racing interests from participating in the Internet poker licensing process. COPA disbanded after several years of attempting to win passage of regulated online poker, shutting down their free-play website that was intended to transition to real-money play after enactment of online poker legislation.

Although COPA is no longer lobbying for online poker, other tribal organizations in California are. One such group is The Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) that represents nine tribes in the southern end of the state. One of TASIN’s demands is a blanket waiver of tribal sovereign immunity.

California is the country’s most populous state and perhaps the only one with enough player liquidity to sustain long-term success without the need to partner with other states. In the absence of federal online poker legislation such as the Reid-Kyl bill that has only a slim chance of success in 2012, individual states will apparently forge on with attempts to pass their own legislation.

Nevada still leads in the race to become the first state offering legalized online poker. Early 2013 is the latest target date for the Silver State to be up and running with poker sites. But repeated delays continue to postpone the launch. And recent reports have New Jersey back in the game, hoping to also soon pass online gambling legislation and become the hub of that industry.

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