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California Online Poker Bill “Terrible” for Players

Posted on by John Lathram

California PokerAdam Gray´s latest attempt to bring regulated online poker to California has been described as terrible by players contributing to the 2+2 poker form.

Even before the introduction of AB2863 last Friday, there were already issues with the content of Assemblyman Gray´s “Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2016”. The proposal to allocate up to $60 million a year for the horseracing industry generated a chorus of disapproval from tribal stakeholders, who were also angry that the same proposal was not being enforced in DFS legislation.

The horseracing industry itself was divided on the proposal. Whereas some welcomed the massive payout (and said that they would fight any attempt by the tribal stakeholders to reduce the amount), others called it a “ransom payment for relinquishing the right to operate online poker in California, and questioned whether this clause in AB2863 would set a dangerous precedent for the future.

By suggesting a subsidy to the horseracing industry, Gray appears to have achieved what few people thought was possible – complicate the landscape for online poker in California further still. However, there is one section of interested parties who are united in their opinion of AB2863 – the players. Judging by the feedback on the 2+2 poker forum, none of them want this legislation passed.

Eighteen Months Without Online Poker in California

Reading through the comments on the 2+2 poker forum, there are some major concerns about the language of Assemblyman Gray´s proposals. The major issue would appear to be that, should AB2863 be enacted, it would immediately make playing at offshore, unregulated poker sites a felony. This would likely result in the withdrawal from the Californian market by sites affiliated to the Winning Poker Network (WPN) and Bovada.

However, the timescale for the introduction of regulated online poker in California is one year and up to 270 days from the enactment of the legislation. This means that, for at least eighteen months, there would be no option – legal or otherwise – for players in California to play online poker. To say that the contributors to the 2+2 forum were unhappy about this would be an understatement – one contributor commenting:

I think that regulation can be good and beneficial to players, but no regulation >>> terrible regulation.

Lack of Interstate Compacts will Harm Other Regulated States

Other concerns about the proposed regulation included the limiting of the player pool. There are no provisions in AB2863 for liquidity-sharing with other regulated states, and overseas players visiting California are excluded from the ring-fenced market due to the requirement to register for an account using a social security number.

As has been seen in New Jersey – and in several European states that have implemented online poker legislation – ring-fencing the market does not work. The pool-limiting measures would not only harm the potential success of regulated online poker in California, it would also harm the prospects for successful state-by-state legislation if other states could not form compacts with California to kick-start their online poker markets.

Lack of Consumer Protection Also an Issue

Most advocates of regulated online poker cite that regulation is good for players because it protects them from fraud and from poker sites running off with their money. Unfortunately, although AB2863 stipulates that players´ funds should be maintained separately from operational expenses, there are no guidelines in the proposed legislation regarding how players´ funds should be protected.

Although there is time to add such measures before the “Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2016” makes it onto the floor of the Assembly, it seems remarkable that consumer protection should be overlooked in the preparation of the legislation. It is also notable that only one of the contributors to the 2+2 forum was actually concerned about this – indicating the priorities of poker players are not what the advocates of regulated online poker would have you believe!

A Few Choice Words from the Players

We will leave the final words about Assemblyman Gray´s proposals for regulated online poker in California to the players:

Soon we´ll be able to look back fondly to the days of WPN and Bovada

No bill is better than this bill

Setting themselves up for a fail

No. No. And No. I´ll stick with WPN, Bovada, Chico etc.

All these bills are gonna do is make US poker worse one state at a time

Hope it fails like the other half-dozen before it

These guys pushing for the government to legislate online poker sure aren´t helping USA players”

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