Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s California Online Poker Bill Gets Second Chance

Posted on July 17th, 2015 by Jon Pineda
Reggie Jones-Sawyer California online poker GO committee hearing

California online poker in 2015 is holding on by its final thread, but Assemblymen Reggie Jones-Sawyer isn’t ready to fold, scheduling a last-minute hearing for his iPoker legislation. (Image: asmdc.org)

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-District 59) is one of three California lawmakers to propose online poker legislation in 2015, and while the other two are seemingly destined for nowhere other than a filing cabinet, Jones-Sawyer’s proposition is set to be heard by the Governmental Organization (GO) committee next month.

It was revealed last week that Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-District 43) pulled his iPoker act from July’s GO hearing, citing “no consensus on the issue” as the primary cause for removal.

It was unknown why Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167 was also yanked along with Gatto’s, leading most to assume Internet poker in California for 2015 was officially dead.

That all changed less than seven days later following a report from EGR North America that says AB 167 will indeed be heard by the GO committee at an unknown or unpublicized date in August.

Dead Bill Walking

But before Californians get their hopes too high, pessimism should remain in The Golden State regarding iPoker’s chances.

The Assembly won’t reconvene from its Summer Recess until August 17th, and less than a month later on September 11th the Interim Study Recess will commence, the last day for any bill to be passed in 2015.

Ratifying any sort of legislation in that limited timeframe is a long shot at best.

Add in the topic of gambling and poker mixed with the Internet, and you’ve got one monumental conundrum with odds lower than a Royal Flush.

Still not convinced?

Include the Native Americans who currently hold a large monopoly on gambling in California through their reservations, and horse tracks desperate to acquire a new source of revenue, and just watch how politically charged a law can become when livelihoods depend on its outcome.

Optimism Remains

California passing a bill to legalize online poker seems at least on paper about as likely as the state magically ridding its $168 billion debt, but that isn’t stopping some entities and individuals from remaining hopeful.

Backed by PokerStars and a coalition of tribes, Californians for Responsible iPoker is continuing its campaign to spread the word to voters in an attempt to create support for legislation.

The group is pulling all the big guns out of its arsenal, sending Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Jason Somerville and others on a statewide tour to meet with residents.

Though the GO committee hasn’t formally recognized a hearing in August of any kind, assuming the EGR North America report is correct, Jones-Sawyer isn’t giving up on iPoker either.

Known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act, AB 167 would provide the regulatory framework that the PokerStars organization so greatly seeks.

With more potential players than any other state in the union, revenue forecasts for a legalized online poker industry in California have been estimated as high as $500 million annually.

Although it’s hard to imagine any bill passing in 2015, should tribal leaders, commercial iPoker operators, horse track executives, and politicians reach a resolution, all stand to benefit greatly, most importantly the people of California.

That’s something we can all be optimistic about.

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