Online poker regulation took a major step forward on Monday after the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee unanimously passed AB 431, allowing the bill to move forward in the legislative process. The vote came after of a joint hearing of the GO Committee on Monday to discuss the measure. Surprisingly, the bill received very little opposition in its current form and was able to pass. Had the committee failed to move on the bill by Friday, it would have died. Passage Does Not Mean it Will Reach a Vote While this was indeed a historic moment in California regulation history, it is actually a small victory due to the nature of the current bill. AB 431 is currently no more than a placeholder bill and lacks details on regulation. At present, the bill lacks a stance on bad actor, fails to address the horse racing industry and has no real meat in terms of regulation. The only thing that this vote accomplished was that it gave time to interested stakeholders to hammer out the language of the bill. Surprisingly, major stakeholders let the bill move forward without a single objection. The Pechanga decided to change their stance on the bill to one of neutrality and both the Barona and Agua Caliente Indians followed suit. Pechanga has made it clear that they will not support any bill that allows the horse racing industry to participate or allows bad actors to acquire a license. Furthermore, Governor Jerry Brown has promised to veto any bill that doesn’t include the horse racing industry. As such, it will be interesting to see if parties can move past the impasse and get this bill to a vote. Parties Appear Optimistic Following Committee Vote The major stakeholders in the state all issued statements following the GO Committee vote on Monday. The Amaya Coalition recognized the milestone that this vote represented but also cautioned that there’s a lot of work ahead. As stated in their statement, “Finalizing the details of the legislation that will regulate California’s online poker marketplace still need to be worked out. But so far, 2015 is different. Hard lines and tough talk have morphed into open minds and dialogue. The vote today underscores the momentum building to help ensure that California finally passes iPoker legislation.” The Rincon Bank of Luiseño Indians also praised the vote and echoed the sentiments of the Amaya Coalition, stating, “There’s still plenty of work to be done and issues to be resolved. However, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians is optimistic that this is the year for Internet poker in California. After five years of debates, some of the heavy lifting of crafting legislation has been done. Now, it is time for the stakeholders to come together, end the politics and solve the final issues.
“We look forward to the informational hearings and discussing the issues in greater detail. More importantly, we look forward to finding solutions to the sticking points and common ground through compromise.” Then there’s the Pechanga. Chairman Mark Macarro issued a statement that reinforced the tribe’s position but does hint at a spirit of openness heading into the summer months. Macarro stated, “We look forward to a meaningful process and arriving at comprehensive legislation that respects California’s longstanding public policy of limited gaming, protects children and the vulnerable, creates jobs, provides additional revenues for the State, and protects consumers and the integrity of the gaming industry from organizations that do not and have not respected U.S. law.” Three hearings remain on the GO Committee’s agenda and details for AB 431 still need to be defined. The next couple of months will prove vital to whether the state pulls out a last second miracle or if they have to wait until next year to finally legalize iPoker in the state. Previous Post Next Post agua caliente|amaya|California|online poker regulation|pechanga 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.

Remember last month when Senator Isadore Hall failed to attend the Joint Informational hearing by the Assembly and Senate GO committees? Well now, we may know why, and it is not what Californians want to hear. Capitol Weekly released an article earlier this month claiming that internet poker has been stalled in California. The reason being that Hall apparently plans to shelve online poker legislation in 2015, a move that isn’t surprising due to the lack of true movement on either side. Internet Poker is Dead Says Tribal Lobbyist The report was written based on claims made by California Tribal Business Alliance attorney David Quintana. Quintana and several other interested parties met with Hall earlier this month and Quintana has taken assurances back to several tribes that online poker isn’t happening this year. According to Quintana, Hall “will not be setting or hearing any internet poker bills this year.” He went on to say, “Online poker is dead. There was no momentum. He’s not going to hear the bills.” This revelation comes less than three weeks after AB 431 emerged from the Assembly Appropriations Committee and moved to the Assembly floor for a vote. A vote is currently being delayed until hearings on iPoker conclude this summer. Should Hall confirm these reports, it would virtually guarantee that the bill wouldn’t be move past the Assembly or would at best fail in the Senate. Hall failed to attend last month’s hearing on the bill and it is unlikely that he will attend the hearing scheduled for later this month. Gray Tries Keep Hope Alive for Bill AB 431 sponsor Adam Gray is remaining optimistic for the bill’s chances. According to Gray, “This issue is alive – very much so. We’re in the process of holding stakeholder meetings. Do we want to establish a framework for internet poker or do we want to do nothing? Those are the only two choices.” AB 9 sponsor Assemblyman Mike Gatto appears a bit more reserved on the chances for an online poker bill. He stated that, “Now, perhaps it seems a little idealistic. Online poker has proven difficult.” Two hearings remain for online poker, meaning further discussion regarding AB 431, AB 9 and even AB 167. However, it seems less and less likely that any real movement will happen and this will pick up once again starting in early 2016. Are We Really Surprised Based on Recent Events? Recent events have been pointing to an eventual shelving of online poker in the state despite movement of AB 437 to the Assembly floor. The Pechanga coalition has changed their stance from neutral to opposed regarding the bill due to a lack of details. Next, the Viejas tribe has started taking out print and radio ads blasting PokerStars and bad actors in general. This move was seen as tribes digging in their heels regarding bad actors. Furthermore, race tracks seem to only want full participation in iPoker while tribes prefer zero participation. As long as these issues remain unresolved, there’s zero chance that a bill will pass in California be it in 2015 or 2020. Less time should be spent pushing through shell bills and more on coming to a compromise that would allow a bill to pass into law. Previous Post Next Post online poker legalization 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.

The sun could be setting for 2015 online poker legalization in the Golden State. News out of the California Assembly on Thursday could spell the death knell not just for one of California’s online poker bills but possibly for the issue in general until 2016. According to KCRA Sacramento, Assemblyman Mike Gatto‘s bill will not be heard as part of Governmental Organization hearing next week. He states that he is shelving AB 9 due to a lack of consensus on internet poker. The upcoming hearing is the last hearing on online poker and Gatto’s cancellation effectively closes the door on the bill in 2015. Gatto Claims Shelving Bill is Right Thing to Do Gatto issued a statement about his decision to shelve the bill on Thursday. Here is the statement in its entirety: “I am canceling next week’s hearing of my Assembly Bill 9. I believe this is the right thing to do at this point because there is no consensus on the issue yet. My bill has an “urgency” clause, and thus it can be resuscitated at any time. Over the past three years, I have met with representatives from nearly every software provider, card room, gaming tribe, racetrack, and internet-poker operator who has an opinion on the subject. I gave my word to both supporters and opponents of AB 9 that my goal was consensus, and that I would not move forward with anything that achieved less than that. I will continue working to craft legislation on which the interested parties can agree, and which is good for the people and treasury of the state of California.” Gatto’s decision to shelve the bill does not come as a surprise considering his overall pessimism on the bill’s passage. Despite being a supporter of the measure, he went from being cautiously optimistic of AB 9’s passage in 2015 to claiming that the measure had a 40% chance to pass in the next two years. Will Other Lawmakers Follow Suit? The question now remains whether other lawmakers will continue to pursue online poker this year or roll their bills over to 2016. Reggie Jones-Sawyer‘s AB 167 and Adam Gray‘s AB 431 are still active but the only one with any type of momentum is AB 431. We use the term momentum lightly because AB 431 is still a shell bill with few details. The bill is currently in a holding pattern awaiting the conclusion of hearings, but it still needs to address both race tracks and bad actors and time is running out. At this point, don’t be surprise if the sponsors of other bills slow start moving towards rolling their bills over to 2016 in order to work out issues with the race tracks and the Pechanga coalition. Even PokerStars looks to have taken a long-term approach to the problem and is focusing on their propaganda tour to “spread the word” about legalization. Gatto’s withdrawal is likely the beginning of the end for online poker in 2015 with everything starting over again come late December or early January. Previous Post Next Post online poker legalization 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.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee has officially released AB 431 to move forward in the legislative process. This is a historic moment in the history of online poker legislation in California, as the bill will have a legitimate shot of coming to a vote on the Assembly floor sometime this year. Of course, this is assuming that lawmakers can come to an agreement on the language in the bill and whether other interested stakeholders will cooperate in the process. If recent news is indicative of things to come, the bill may have taken one-step forward only to take two steps back in the near future. AB 431 Moves out of Appropriations and Into Holding Pattern On Thursday, Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance announced on Twitter that AB 431 would leave the Assembly Appropriations committee and head to the Assembly floor. However, the bill will remain in a virtual holding pattern for the next couple of months as hearings on California iPoker continue. According to Krafcik, the vote was not a unanimous one as only the committee Democrats voted on the bill. Those that voted all approved the bill to move forward. The bill still remains a single page “shell bill” lacking any real substance and as such has forced some parties to reverse their position of neutrality on the bill. Pechanga Coalition Reverses Position on AB 431 Prior to the Appropriations Committee vote on Thursday, the coalition led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians sent a letter to the committee changing their position from neutral to opposed. In the letter, the coalition stated that they took a neutral position out of respect for Assembly Chairman Adam Gray’s leadership and “prior assurance that consensus would be sought before moving forward.” The tribe continued, stating, “Continuing to pass this measure as a spot bill does not advance a state regulatory structure for iPoker. The issues that divide stakeholders remain unresolved. Moving the bill at this time would be directly counterproductive to any internet poker effort, which we know is not the goal of the author, who has told us he desires to be the neutral party bringing stakeholders together on this issue, if indeed that is possible.” The coalition urged that the bill not move out of committee but rather be held until a consensus could be reached. Hearings Next – But Will Any Real Progress Occur? There are two hearings yet to be conducted on California iGaming and AB 431 will remain in a holding pattern until they are concluded. The first is on June 24 and is a Joint GO informational hearing. It is unknown what tone it will take, but hopefully it will be more productive than the hearing held earlier this month, one that was skipped by the Senate’s GO Chair Isadore Hall and abandoned half way through by over half of the committee. The final hearing is on July 8th by the Assembly GO committee and is supposed to discuss AB 9 and AB 167. With all the focus on AB 431, there is a chance this could change dramatically. In the meantime, lawmakers still need to focus on completing the language in AB 431 and deciding whether certain matters will be address. More specifically, will race tracks be included in the bill and will it contain a bad actor clause. Finally, there seems to be little interest by the Pechanga on compromise concerning either race tracks or bad actors. In addition, lawmakers seem reluctant to act without a tribal consensus regarding iPoker. Unless things change dramatically between now and July, what will likely result is progress “on paper” but no real results. There’s no reason to believe the Assembly will vote without a consensus and one doesn’t appear on the horizon. However, there’s still time to negotiate and parties will likely try and negotiate until it becomes clear that this will need to roll over into 2016. Previous Post Next Post California|online poker legalization|pechanga 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.

One of the most noteworthy additions to this year’s WSOP schedule is the inclusion of an online-only bracelet event. Event #64, a $1,000 NLHE tournament to be held on July 2 will take place almost exclusively on in Nevada. I say “almost” because the final two combatants will battle it out live under center stage at the Rio. The WSOP’s decision to launch such an event is a stroke of cross-promotional genius that will undoubtedly facilitate the legitimization of legal, regulated online poker in the United States. There’s only one problem: players on in New Jersey will not be permitted to directly compete for the bracelet. Yes, they’ll probably be able to satellite their way in, but should they want to procure WSOP gold, they’ll still have to pack their bags and gravitate towards the Rio. There has to be a better way. With all this forward thinking going on behind the scenes in Nevada, isn’t it high time the powers that be at least consider allowing players located outside of Nevada to compete for a bracelet? The most obvious means by which this can be accomplished is for Nevada to enter into a liquidity sharing compact with the Garden State. In all likelihood, that isn’t going to happen in 2015, leaving only one other alternate solution: Hold simultaneous events in both Nevada and New Jersey, where the winner from each state meets up the Rio to determine a victor. Remember last year, when traffic on WSOP NV skyrocketed during the live Series, but remained relatively static in New Jersey? The allure of a bracelet event in the Garden State could extend the poker media hoopla that envelopes Las Vegas from late-June to July to the East Coast, helping to raise iGaming awareness and in turn attracting wannabe poker players to regulated New Jersey sites. Going further, should WSOP NJ feature the bracelet event as the Main Event of an extended online series, it may inspire out-of-state players from Pennsylvania and New York. many of whom can’t necessarily make it out to Vegas, to shack up in the Garden State for a week or two, driving cash liquidity upward during a season when it’s typically at its lowest. Alright, so what does this have to do with California? Simple. There’s no good reason why once (if) California introduces online poker into its already diversified swatch of gambling options, that bracelet participation cannot be extended to the Golden State, in so long as has established a presence therein – which seems a near inevitability. Picture a final table consisting of one representative from each state where poker is legal, each of whom won their way in online. Better yet, envision a scenario where offers a special rakeback, or other lucrative promo to the state from which the winner qualifies. Now that’s cross-promotion at its finest. Which is really the entire point. There’s simply no stronger vehicle for promoting online poker than at the live Series, and what better way to do it than to have players from each state where online poker is regulated to represent their site. It could prove a game changer, that is at least until Gov. Sandoval and Christie reach terms on a liquidity sharing pact. Considering just how long PokerStars reentry into the United States has been delayed, I won’t be keeping my fingers crossed on that one. In any case, the WSOP’s decision to host an online-only event is a bold maneuver, and one that could pay dividends later on if fully realized. Previous Post Next Post About Robert DellaFave Robert DellaFave writes for a variety of online gaming sites and is also working on programming a poker simulation creative enough to beat the best. Follow Robert on Twitter @DivergentGames and on Google+

In a stunning turn of events, the Pechanga coalition is considering a possible partnership with – we hope you’re seated – PokerStars (we double-checked to make sure this wasn’t an April Fool’s prank). On Saturday, Dave Palermo with Online Poker Report revealed the potential partnership between PokerStars and the most powerful group in California online poker. According to the report, tribal leaders met on Tuesday in San Diego and floated the possibility of an alliance between PokerStars card room and California Indian tribes. If this partnership becomes a reality, this would be the biggest step forward towards online poker legislation in California to date. Partnership Would Still Leave Racetracks on Outside Looking In The partnership was first floated last week during the National Indian Gaming Association convention. According to tribal leaders in attendance at the conference, the Pechanga are suggesting the coalition as a way to bypass the horse racing industry and move forward with legislation. The Pechanga is willing to soften their stances on bad actors and tainted assets in order to try to form a consensus among tribes that will allow online poker for tribes and state card room. They still want horse racetracks excluded. It is unclear whether a consensus can be reached regarding racetracks. Some tribes still believe that racetracks should be allowed to offer online poker while some believe that the tribes and card rooms could provide revenue sharing with the tracks over allowing them to run sites. Coalition May be Forced to Address Track Issue The horse racing industry in California has long contended that they deserve a spot in legalized iPoker in the state. There is also little chance that they would accept a revenue sharing deal as it could be removed by the legislature at whim. Last year, racing officials were quoted as saying that they would tie up legislation in court if it did not include racetracks. In addition, Governor Jerry Brown has also spoken out against any legislation that doesn’t include the horse racing industry. Legislators and stakeholders do not want either scenario. Legal challenges to this bill could delay iPoker regulation by years. It is unlikely that legislators would push a bill that is likely to be vetoed, so it appears that further negotiation on the issue of racetracks is needed. A New Beginning or Wishful Thinking? It is natural to view this recent news with a bit of skepticism based on everything that has happened, or rather what hasn’t happened, in recent years. The question now is why the Pechanga are willing to back down from one of their traditional stances. Simply stated, forces in and outside of the state are working against them. In California, their coalition is really the only group with any political clout that is opposing PokerStars. Furthermore, their position was easier to assume when it was unclear whether the company would be allowed back in New Jersey. Last week, Amaya announced that they expect to be operational in New Jersey by the end of Quarter 3 of 2015. This is the first time a company official has set a timeline, making it much more likely that it’s going to happen this time. Pechanga sees the writing on the wall and they see the potential of online gambling. For now, they will continue to posture against horse racing but if a consensus can be made on online poker involving PokerStars, odds are that the horse racing issue will be addressed with great swiftness. If this partnership is finalized, expect significant movement to be made on this bill prior to PokerStars launching in September. Previous Post Next Post online poker legalization|pechanga|pokerstars 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.