It seems that the residents of the state of California will not be enjoying online poker this year. Those who are eagerly waiting for the state to legalize online poker may have to wait for longer after the bills set to legalize the game having stalled for the fifth year in a row.
The announcement of pulling the legalization bill by Senator Lou Correa is because of the little time left, which is not enough to reconcile the tribal groups and card rooms who have vested interests and are competing. The Correa bill is one of the two bills on legalization of online poker that have been hindered by the intrastate politics. They have been at the committee stage for many months. The deadline for finalization measures for the legislative season is August 31, which leaves little time to reconcile the differing parties and to finalize the bill.
The LA Times quoted Senator Correa saying that the time left before August 31 is not enough for making major changes and also bring together the Indian operators and card clubs to a consensus and vote. Correa noted that policy on Internet poker is important and therefore, it should be done right.
The other bill stuck at the committee stage is the online poker bill by the California Assemblyman Jones Sawyer. So far, there is no indication of what he wants with the bill, which is similar to Correas bill, and it is facing similar problems.
The looming deadline of August 31 means that even other legislative initiatives by other interests such as the tribes will not yield any fruits this year. This brings to an end any hope that the California people would have in playing online poker.
It is also a bad situation for Pokerstars, which has recently been acquired by Amaya Gaming. The online poker operator has formed a Californian Alliance together with Morongo tribal group and three card rooms. This is to campaign against inclusion of the ‘bad actor’ clauses on the bills. If the clauses were included, it would exclude Pokerstars from being licensed to operate in California. That is why the clauses are being demanded by the competitors to block the giant of online poker from operating in the intrastate market.
Considering that Sen. Correa also serves as the chairman SGOC - the Senate Governmental Organizational Committee, his pulling down of the bill carries more weight. This is because the committee oversees all gambling related bills before they are referred to senate floor.
Only few states have managed to legalize online poker and other online casinos. The legalizations process enables the states to oversee the running of the casino and to prevent some of the vices associated with gambling such as money laundering and other criminal activities. It also ensures that measures are taken by the promoters to curb gambling by minors while also promoting responsible gambling. Online gambling can be a good of source of the much needed revenues by the state. That is why legalization of the activity is important a challenge that California is still facing.