Hopes of regulating online poker in California have taken a turn for the worse with new rumors sprouting that the impasse is desired by certain lawmakers.
Recently introduced ipoker proposals that were introduced simultaneously into the Assembly and Senate by Assemblyman Adam Gray and Senator Isadore Hall, respectively, were seen by some as a control issue rather than a sincere attempt to advance legislation. A California gaming lobbyist, David Quintana, told Pechanga.net that the legislators seem to be intent on continuing the current stalemate on regulation until they are good and ready to proceed.
Quintana cites the fact that the Hall and Gray proposals are of the bare bones variety and don’t currently contain any specific language to be debated and negotiated by the gaming interests involved in California’s ipoker regime. Two bills already exist, one proposed in December by Assemblyman Mike Gatto and the other in January by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, that both include explicit language needed to progress.
Gatto, who was initially at least somewhat optimistic that his bill had a chance in 2015 after undergoing considerable debate by representatives of cardrooms, tribes and other parties, has now taken a more pessimistic outlook and sees the chances of ipoker approval slim for both this year and next. The divide among warring factions over whether to include supposed bad actors and racetracks may be getting deeper rather than better.
Heightening the dim outlook is a House subcommittee hearing on March 5 that will delve into the merits of RAWA, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, that is being pushed by anti-online gambling activist Sheldon Adelson. That bill aims to ban online gambling on the federal level and take with it the regimes already operating in Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada.
Though much debate by federal lawmakers is likely needed before RAWA becomes a serious threat, it is a threat nonetheless that would make all the bickering in California become moot if eventually successful on Capitol Hill. Should California gaming interests actually find compromise and pass online poker legislation, it would make the approval of RAWA even more difficult if the nation’s largest state already had regulated Internet poker.
Prior to ushering in the new year, many observers had been under the impression that 2015 would be the year that the parties involved in California would see eye-to-eye on online poker regulation after repeated attempts since 2009 had gone for naught. Not only is that no longer true, but the deadlock seems perhaps stronger than ever considering the intense animosity among Indian tribes who have formed coalitions with separate interests.
Where do we go from here? Short of putting all the reps of tribes and racetracks and cardrooms in a room and not letting them out until compromise is reached, it appears that online poker regulation in California will remain at a standstill.