Online poker legislation introduced by California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer will likely receive a hearing date sometime between August 17-31.
AB 167, which was scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Governmental Organizational Committee earlier this month before being removed from the agenda by Jones-Sawyer, will be discussed by the same committee next month, eGR North America reported. An exact date for the hearing has yet to be set, but a representative from Jones-Sawyer’s office told PokerUpdate that the last two weeks in August are a likely time frame.
The clock is ticking on the Golden State lawmakers, as the legislative session is due to end on September 11. An upcoming one-month summer recess also will suspend any potential progress. It is looking more and more like 2015 will pass without California joining the trio of states that have already enacted online poker legislation.
Still No Consensus
When AB 167 was withdrawn prior to a July 8 hearing date, it was feared by some that Jones-Sawyer’s proposal would follow in the footsteps of Assemblyman Mike Gatto and his ipoker regulation effort. Gatto cancelled a hearing on his AB 9 proposal at the beginning of July, citing the continued lack of consensus among the gaming interests involved.
Still to be resolved is the extent of participation regarding alleged bad actors and racetracks. Those details will likely not be fully ironed out at the August hearing or by September 11, considering that AB 167 permits the inclusion of both – much to the chagrin of a coalition led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.
Pechanga did, however, offer compromises to the horse racing industry in June. Revenue sharing and participation as affiliates were mentioned as options by Pechanga reps, but the racetracks scratched both ideas and would like to be on a level playing field with the other stakeholders.
Those still holding out hope for online poker legislation approval in 2015 point to the fact that AB 431 sponsored by Assemblyman Adam Gray has made more progress than any any other California ipoker bill introduced over the last seven years. AB 431 passed out of the Assembly Governmental Organizational Committee and Appropriations Committee, landing on the Assembly floor.
But the downside is that AB 431 is a placeholder bill, lacking details regarding the gaming interests that may participate, as well as specifics pertaining to license fees, tax rates, etc. Were such language included in the measure, you can bet that the stakeholders involved would not see eye to eye on at least some of the policies.
While 2015 may not be the year that California joins Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey, it will at least go down in the record books as a year in which some progress was made. The fact that the Pechanga coalition offered a compromise at all may be a starting point for ipoker legislation in 2016. California will regulate online poker eventually, but the waiting is always the hardest part.