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Progress Hopeful for California Online Poker

Posted on by John Lathram

Progress Hopeful for California Online PokerWhile regulated online poker in California continues to be stymied by the gaming interests involved, progress may come in the form of legislative hearings.

While one such hearing set for April 22 in which Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas was prepared to make the case for regulation was postponed, three other hearings remain on the calendar. There are also rumors floating around indicating that the postponed hearing will be rescheduled shortly.

In any event, still on the agenda is a hearing on May 20 before the Senate Governmental Organization Committee entitled “Overview of Gambling in California-Legality, Authorization and Regulation.” The same committee is set to convene again on June 24 to discuss the topic of “The Legality of Internet Poker-How Prepared is California to Regulate It?”

Most of us following the goings-on in the Golden State can answer that question by stating that, at present, California is ill-prepared to regulate Internet poker because of the continued struggle over who should be allowed in and who should be left out. Hopefully, by the June hearing date, efforts at compromise will have improved.

On July 8, yet another hearing organized by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee will take place, only this time the topic for debate will be two of the four online poker bills proposed earlier this year. Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s AB 9 will get a look-see by the committee 2 and 1/2 months from now, as will the AB 167 introduced by Assemblyman Reginald Jones Sawyer.

When 2015 began, California was seen as the favorite to become the next regulated igaming state despite over half a decade of legislative attempts that went nowhere. The odds dropped considerably when it was revealed that the state’s powerful Indian tribes remain deadlocked over how to slice the potential revenue pie.

Gatto stated months ago that the chances of ipoker legislative approval in 2015 were about 50/50. He has since adjusted that estimate to 35% likelihood for next year – not 2015. Not very encouraging to say the least.

Nonetheless, the fact that hearings are scheduled can be seen as a positive, and it is such informational hearings that can possibly lead to progress. The more the issue is debated and discussed, the better the chance of movement or compromise.

Though the state’s Indian tribes, card clubs and racetracks have not been able to see eye-to-eye on the issue, it would be helpful if lawmakers pushed them a bit harder toward finding common ground. And if the hearings accomplish the task of swaying legislators to take a stand and force the hand of the gaming interests involved, perhaps then we will see online poker regulation in California come to fruition.

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