Ever since the ominous Black Friday of 2011, California iPoker fans have been eagerly awaiting the day in which state legislators elect to pass an online poker bill. Yesterday should have marked the first of four hearings to debate the issue in the Golden State, but the discussion of Assemblyman Adam Gray’s AB 431 was postponed.
Initially, there was no deferral date named for the cancelled California iPoker hearing. According to a tweet posted by Chris Krafcik of Gambling Compliance in the wee hours of Thursday morning, the schedule has been updated. Krafcik said that according to sources, “shell bill AB431 to be heard on 4/27 in Assembly Governmental Organization Committee”.
That information has since been confirmed by an updated schedule of hearings on the AMS GO Committee website.
As noted by Krafcik, Gray’s online poker measure has been deemed a “shell bill” due to its notable lack of any specific fine points. AB 431 designates a basic framework for California iPoker regulation, but leaves many blanks to be filled in by legislators before it can progress into the law books.
More California iPoker Hearings Scheduled
There are three more hearings slated for discussion by the ASM GO committee in regards to internet poker. On May 20, a Joint Assembly / Senate meeting will examine the subject, “Overview of Gambling in California-Legality, Authorization and Regulation”.
Then on June 24, the same committees will gather for a hearing entitled, “The Legality of Internet Poker – How Prepared is California to Regulate It?”
Finally, on July 8, the ASM GO Committee plans to confer on two other California iPoker bills, Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s AB 9 and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s AB 167.
Realistic Hopes for California Online Poker Regulation
Online poker fans in the Golden State shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. Most analysts, industry experts and lawmakers—even those who proposed the California iPoker bills currently circulating the state capital—have made it abundantly clear that there’s little hope for legalization in the current 2015-16 session.
On a brighter note, however, most agree that’s it’s not a matter of if, but rather when. California has a massive market for online poker that operators and tax collectors are eagerly awaiting to develop. Due to that immense number of online poker players residing in the state, the general consensus is that lawmakers want to make sure they get it done right.
There’s also the issue of who can and cannot participate in a California iPoker market. Horse racing tracks are adamant that they should be involved, but many tribes and commercial card room operators are vehemently opposed to that plan since brick-and-mortar pari-mutuel facilities are not legally permitted to offer any other form of gambling.
The argument over allowing ‘bad actors’ and/or service providers with ‘tainted assets’ has died down somewhat. Several formerly opposing tribes have admitted to a more cohesive willingness to accept sites like PokerStars, but until the minutiae of a unified California iPoker bill are scripted, revised and agreed upon by enough parties to entertain the necessary 2/3 approval, it’s hard to predict how soon, or in what form, online poker will finally be authorized in the Golden State.