AB 167 Introduced – Bad Actor Clause Dropped and Horse Tracks Added

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The fight for online poker in California took an unexpected twist on Thursday with the introduction of a new bill to legalize the game. The Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015 (AB 167) was introduced on Thursday by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and this bill seeks to address many of the key concerns that have held up online poker legislation for years. Jones-Sawyer promised sweeping changes last year when he announced that he would refile the file in 2015. The two largest changes have to do with race track participation and the bad actor clause. Under the new bill, race tracks will be permitted to offer online poker in the state. The industry had been excluded in recent years and tensions had been mounting over the issue. The other major change is the virtual elimination of the bad actor clause from the bill. There is language in the bill that would ban companies that have been convicted of felonies in connection with poker, but PokerStars was never actually convicted of felony activity. Bill Highlights Include Strict Player Identification and Penalties for Illegal Gambling As expected, AB 167 covers most of the topics involving licensing, player registration and taxation. Below are a few of the bill highlights: • Licenses are good for four years and can be renewed for four years.
• Sites will be taxed at 8.5% of gross gaming revenues
• $10 million licensing fee
• Only online poker will be legal
• License holders can operate two online poker sites
• Players must be 21 or older and provide verification
• Once passed, gaming commission has 270 days to setup regulations One new addition to this bill is penalties against players who choose to gamble on unregulated online poker sites. According to provisions under section 19990.303 of the bill, a player is not allowed to gamble on any site not authorized by the state. Those choosing to do so are subject to felony prosecution, including prison time. Players will also have to provide extensive information to prove they are of legal age and within state boundaries. In order to play for real money in California, players must submit the following:
Legal name
Primary home address
Primary phone number
Social Security number
Valid Email Address
Proof that the player is 21 or older Pechanga Already Oppose Bill It didn’t take long for the Pechanga to respond to the new bill. Late Thursday, Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro released the following statement: Solid Start but Divide May Prove Too Great to Achieve Passage One must commend Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer for his initiative in creating a bill that attempts to bridge the divide between stakeholders in the state. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ground to cover before parties will allow the issue to move forward. It is hard to see the Pechanga back down from their position regarding PokerStars without some type of concession from either other stakeholders or even Amaya. The horse racing issue is in reality a lesser issue that would have likely been resolved easily provided the bad actor hurdle be cleared. Expect the bad actor issue to become the primary focus of negotiation for the next few months. However, if significant progress isn’t made by April there will likely be little chance this bill passes in 2015. Previous Post Next Post AB 167|California Online Poker About James Guill Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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