California Online Poker Bill Passes Committee Vote

On Wednesday, a California online poker bill passed the State Assembly Governmental Organization Committee with a 19-0 unanimous vote. The bill in question, Assembly Bill 2863, or more commonly referred to as the “Internet Poker Consumer Protect Act of 2016”, would give the state of California the framework to authorize and regulate poker on the internet. The bill was written by State Assemblyman Adam Gray and co-signed by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. During the hearing, it was quite clear that the majority of the groups that attended seemed to support Gray’s legislation.

The iPoker Bill to Protect California Residents

As Gray would state in his bill and at the hearing, the iPoker bill was created to not only bring in and regulate online poker but also as a way to protect the residents from illegal online gambling.

“California needs a strong law that puts a stop to illegal online gambling, and that is what we have crafted.”

This would serve two purposes, to bring in additional revenue to the state and protect the players and consumers from unlawful websites. As written in the bill, the first $60 million in annual revenues would be given to the General Fund’s California Horse Racing Internet Poker Account. This was done so that racetracks could not participate in online poker. Even though the bill got a unanimous vote on Wednesday by the Committee, it still has several obstacles to overcome before it becomes a reality.

Problems with “Bad Actors” Might Affect Outcome

There is one major obstacle that stands in the way of the bill being successful, the Native American community. As most know, they currently hold the monopoly over casinos in California, and have been the main reason bills in the past have failed. The main reason the community is against online poker is due to the “bad actors” that have participated illegally in the past, most notably PokerStars.

Bad actors are those websites that took advantage of the gray area in the law surrounding online gambling even after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed in 2006. The problem now is that Amaya and PokerStars are members of the Californians for Responsible iPoker coalition, and with their shaky past, doesn’t give the Native American community much confidence. Their stance is that bad actors should not be allowed back into the U.S. market that they illegally profited from. This will be one major obstacle that we will follow closely as it will determine the fate of online poker in California for years to come.

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