Things are finally starting to look up for the California online poker legislation after the Bill known as AB 2863 passed the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee yesterday. After nine years of discussion on this matter, the Committee voted unanimously, 18 to 0, allowing for the bill to move forward.
Step forward for California Online Poker
The AB 2863, proposed by Adam Gray, was only the second attempt to actually do something for online poker in California. Although very little progress has been achieved so far, this time around poker players in this state have a real reason for optimism.
One of the highlights of Gray’s proposal is the $60 million payment on the annual level for the horseracing industry. For those not familiar with the matter, representatives of this industry were the main obstacle for the regulation, as they weren’t keen on giving up their right to apply for licenses. Tribal governments, on the other hand, were expressly against this, supporting their stance by the fact that tracks do not offer live poker.
Now, with a $60 million concession on yearly basis, track owners are finally starting to reconsider their position and seem willing to give up their rights to apply for California online poker licenses.
More details to be determined later
Although the Bill defines the general stipulations, there are still some important details that need to be ironed out. One of them is defining a tax rate, which is not exclusively mentioned in AB 2863. This is, of course, a very important stipulation, as those $60 million for the horseracing industry must come from somewhere.
However, the estimated value of California online poker market is $400 million, as Grey claims that there is about one million residents of this state who play an unregulated, offshore sites catering to American players.
Bad Actors clause
California is one of the states in which the Bad Actors clause, referring to online operators who kept offering their services to players after the passage of UIGEA, is a very important factor. A number of tribes are heavily opposing the idea of PokerStars entering the California market once the regulation is passed. On the other hand, there are tribes which support PokerStars return in principle and have formed certain partnerships with the global online poker giant.
While many details concerning this and some other important issues still need to be ironed out, this seems like a big leap for California online poker and some predict that we could actually see the legislation happen sometime this year.
On the other hand, Steve Stalling of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association stated for CardPlayer that if the online poker legislation in this state does not happen in the next two years, it could be dead for ever.
California has never come closer to passing the Bill to regulate this market, so next few months are going to be crucial.
According to many earlier predictions, this regulation could also be very important for the future of online poker in the States in general.