Calshark.com, a free-play online poker site operated by the California Online Poker Association (COPA), has closed down due to the dissolution of the organization.
COPA consisted of 29 cardrooms and 31 Indian tribes based in California who had formed an alliance to lobby for the passage of regulated online poker in the Golden State. COPA had originally hoped to “transition CalShark.com to live, real-money play after online poker was legalized in California.” However, the inability to secure legalization after several years of trying prompted COPA’s membership to disband last month.
Visitors attempting to access the Calshark.com website are met with a message stating that “despite more than three years of effort, the State Legislature has not acted on Internet poker legislation and COPA has decided to dissolve. As a result, CalShark.Com will be closing immediately.”
As the country’s most populous state, California would be key to player liquidity in any interstate online poker scheme that may be approved in the future. However, the in-fighting and lack of agreement among the state’s gaming interests of native tribes, racetracks and cardrooms has severely hindered the efforts of California lawmakers to gain ground on proposed intrastate legislation.
Senators Rod Wright and Darrell Steinberg drafted SB 1463, a bill that would have allowed California to join its neighboring state of Nevada as the only states to enact poker-only online gambling legislation. After listening to the concerns of all parties involved and making amendments to the bill in an attempt to please all of the state’s gaming interests, common ground on the issue has remained elusive.
COPA’s former members continue to remain supportive of “a bill that will allow California’s trusted poker operators—tribal governments and licensed card clubs—to offer intrastate online poker in a way that protects the rights and interests of Californians who want to play poker online and also helps the state budget.” Notably omitted from that statement are the state’s horse-racing interests, whom COPA has adamantly sought to exclude from joining the state’s list of potential licensed operators.
Recent reports have indicated that COPA’s dissolution may actually benefit the state’s desire to enact online poker regulations. Sen. Wright has stated that he will attempt another online poker proposal in the 2013 legislative session in January.