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California Eyes 2015 for Online Poker Regulation

Gaming interests in California have come to grips with the fact that the legalization of online poker will not become a reality in 2014 and have set their sights on next year.

Following the announcement by Sen. Lou Correa mid-week that he was pulling SB 1366 from consideration due to the lack of time remaining in the current legislative session, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer told PokerNews later in the week that his AB 2291 has also landed in the muck for 2014. Both pending bills are now dead and attempts at legislation will move to a sixth year – 2015.

New bill to be introduced in December

On a bright note, plans are apparently already in the works for a new bill by Jones-Sawyer to be introduced in December. The issues holding up the advancement of ipoker legislation will be worked on from now until then and hopefully the new proposal will incorporate compromises that all interested parties can agree to and live with.

No such bill will be coming from Correa’s camp, as the Santa Ana senator will bow out of further attempts to push for Internet poker regulation due to the expiration of his final term in office. He can now join other lawmakers such as Sen. Rod Wright who have laid the initial groundwork for online poker legislation with repeated attempts at passage, but failed to find acceptance.

Eyes are on New Jersey and PokerStars

The goings-on in New Jersey with regard to PokerStars obtaining an online gambling license in that state under Amaya ownership may come into play in California to some extent. Without a doubt, interested parties in the Golden State will be watching closely the decision and ruling that is coming soon by New Jersey gaming regulators.

That decision is expected to include rubber-stamped approval and PokerStars fully anticipates getting the OK in California as well. Its partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, and Commerce Club provides some powerful allies within the state whose collective voice will be heard before the outcome of Internet poker regulation is reached.

PokerStars has a great history with regulators and governments all over the world, and we look forward to working with lawmakers and regulators in California to help structure a market that provides robust competition and strong regulatory oversight,” said Rational Group’s Director of Strategy and Business Development Guy Templer following the announcement that California will have to try again for ipoker approval in 2015.

Compromise needed for success in 2015

The inclusion of PokerStars in an ipoker scheme does not sit well with a consortium of California tribes that have joined forces in order to strengthen their already strong position. But with PokerStars now controlled by Amaya and with entry into the New Jersey market virtually guaranteed under that new ownership, perhaps the tribes will be more amenable to compromise so that online poker can be approved and launched in California in 2015.

Relaxing their position on excluding horse racing interests may also be required on the part of the tribes. Any bill that keeps horsemen out is likely to delay progress, as the racetracks have vowed to be part of any online poker scheme and are prepared to state their case in a legal forum if need be.

The coalition headed by the Morongo Tribe issued their take on the previous two ipoker bills that are no longer pending, saying that the proposals “sought to unconstitutionally limit competition, place prohibitions on race tracks, and rewrite longstanding, successful state policy regarding California’s oversight of gaming.”

The state’s gaming interests now have five months in which to resolve those issues before a new bill is proposed. Let’s hope that compromise is the order of the day and that a satisfactory solution can be found so that the nation’s largest state can launch regulated online poker in 2015.



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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.