After a decade of trying to pass online poker legislation, the state of California has given up their efforts in 2018.
Online poker is an activity that is now legalized in four states within the US; Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Other states have been considering online poker legislation over the past few years and hopefully we will see a new state enter the fray this year. One state that will not be trying to establish an iPoker market this year will be California. For close to a decade, California has tried to see online poker legislation come to pass, to no avail. It seems 2018 will be a break year as lawmakers focus their efforts in gaming elsewhere.
2018 is a No-Go
According to an article at Online Poker Report, California lawmakers will not be focusing on the online poker side of legislation. Assemblyman Reggie-Jones Sawyer has stated that he will not be seeking to reintroduce an online poker bill this year. The assemblyman stated that after a year of little progress in getting tribal gaming interests in agreement, he will not be working this year to see a bill involving iPoker introduced.
It seems after years and years of no movement, with interested parties unable to come to an agreement as to how the state should offer online gaming, efforts are now stalled. Lawmakers are reportedly looking ahead to sports betting as the state of New Jersey has a case pending within the United States Supreme Court that could see sports wagering a reality across the nation. California may introduce legislation to join other states hoping to see a positive ruling by SCOTUS with sports betting allowed in each state that chooses to legalize the option.
If California passes legislation involving sports betting and SCOTUS rules in favor of New Jersey in the Christie vs. NCAA case, they would be ready to start a new gaming industry.
Why Poker Won’t Work
In California, there are too many groups involved which had led to an issue with getting legislation off the ground. For years, the tribal gaming groups, card rooms and race tracks have been in disagreement as to how online poker should be handled. For some time, the race tracks wanted to be involved while the card rooms and tribal groups did not want them taking part.
A solution was found in 2016 to this issue, with a bill created by Assemblyman Adam Gray. The measure created by Gray was able to gain the support of race tracks, but AB 2863 eventually died away as other issues came into play.
A big problem remains tribal groups who want to see a bad actor clause included in legislation. A bad actor clause would keep any operator who remained in the US after UIGEA was passed in 2006 from offering services. This would include PokerStars in the mix. There is one coalition of tribal groups who are for bad actor clauses while there was another group, who was ready to work with PokerStars, that did not want to see the bad actor clause added.
If the card rooms, tribal groups and race tracks are unable to come to an agreement, the state may never be able to pass legislation involving online poker. It will be interesting to see if sports betting legislation comes under fire by these groups, if legislation is presented by lawmakers. Will the gaming operators have a problem with this type of legislation as well, or will sports betting have a better chance of moving forward? Only time will tell.