California Online Poker Bill Dies in State Assembly

Gambling Law

It almost seems like California is destined to not be able to legalize online poker. After several attempts within an eight year time frame, the state has seen yet another bill die. On the 31st of August, the latest attempt to pass online poker legislation within the state stopped in the State Assembly after competing groups continue to have issues with how the industry should be operated. Online poker sites and native American tribes are at odds, which has legislators hesitatent to pass any legislation that would legalize online poker gaming in the state.

A bill created by Assemblyman Adam Gray was the latest measure under consideration that would have given online poker gaming licenses to poker parlors as well as Native American tribes that operate land based casinos. Requirements would be a background check with the Department of Justice and certain regulations in place to ensure consumer protections with the activity. The bill was unable to gain support from two-thirds of the State Assembly and was not voted on by the last day of the legislative session.

The Native American tribes of California are divided as to who should be able to offer online poker within the state. The proposal was supported by the coalition of tribes that includes the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians as well as the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. A total of seven tribes are part of the coalition that support the bill due to a recent amendment which would have kept companies like PokerStars from being involved.

The amendment to the bill placed a five year penalty on such sites who operated in the United States when it was illegal to do so. The Poker Players Alliance and PokerStars both spoke out against the changes saying it essentially would block such companies from operating permanently instead of just the five year time frame based on language used in the changes to the bill.

Siding with the PPA and PokerStars is the competing coalition that includes the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians as well as the Bicycle Casino, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and the Commerce Casino. The groups in the coalition have been working with PokerStars and planned on continuing to work together if online poker were to be legalized in the state.

Gray has not commented as of yet on the failure of his bill to move forward.

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