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At the start of 2015, many were hopeful to see California become the next regulated igaming state. In fact, Morgan Stanley’s crystal ball revealed last September that California would be the only state to enact online gambling legislation in 2015 with a launch coming the following year.

Ah, but that crystal ball revealed new details earlier this month. The financial services soothsayers now predict no states will join Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey in regulation in 2015.

Also before the year began, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto proposed an online poker bill (AB 9) and put the odds of success of his bill or another finding approval at 50%. Gatto, too, has since soured on his coin flip estimation, and now makes book at 35% for online poker regulation success in 2016.

Hearings Provide Some Optimism

While hope for online poker legislation becoming a reality in California in 2015 is all but dead, those who choose to view situations as a glass being half full as opposed to half empty do see some promise on the horizon. That promise comes in the form of online poker and gambling hearings scheduled by state legislators.

While an April 22 hearing that was scheduled to include words of wisdom pertaining to the benefits of regulation by Poker Players Alliance honcho John Pappas was unfortunately postponed, there are still three future hearings that remain on the docket. Also, the postponed hearing may get a new time and date in short order.

The upcoming hearings include a May 20 sit-down scheduled by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee that will take an “Overview of Gambling in California-Legality, Authorization and Regulation.” The following month on June 24, the same committee will examine “The Legality of Internet Poker-How Prepared is California to Regulate It?”

While critics may answer that question by saying “ill-prepared,” those with a more positive outlook could reply with “more prepared than ever before.” Several years of failed attempts at legislation make both answers correct – seemingly.

July Hearing on Proposed Bills

One more hearing remains on the schedule to date, as July 8 will find legislators looking directly at the proposals introduced by Gatto and fellow Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (AB 167). The merits and downside to each will likely be examined, perhaps allowing one bill to emerge as more favorable than the other in the eyes of lawmakers.

Hopefully, the informational hearings in May and June will permit progress to be made before the July hearing that gets down to the nitty-gritty of perusing the bills currently on the table. It is imperative that lawmakers become more involved in rectifying the issues that remain among the state’s gaming interests of card clubs, racetracks and Indian tribes.

Should the stalemate continue and progress become waylaid yet again, Morgan Stanley would be forced to dust off and pull out their crystal ball once more. A prediction based on the latest and newest developments would follow. One day that crystal ball has to be right, doesn’t it?

Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.

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