California has made several attempts to legalize online poker, but has always failed. Despite its failures, the state is slowly but surely moving towards legalization. In 2015, a bill finally made it to assembly, but there is hardly any chance of it coming to a vote. However, several online poker hearings were held this year, indicating that lawmakers are serious about the issue.
Although three online poker bills were proposed in California this year, only the bill proposed by Adam Gray succeeded in making it to assembly. Unfortunately, the bill is just a shell and is not likely to be completed before September 11, the legislative deadline.
Interestingly, California’s tribes and card rooms have formed alliances to lobby for online poker legalization in the state. For example, the Morongo Tribe, PokerStars, and California’s biggest card rooms have formed an alliance. Recently, the Pala, the Rincon, and the United Auburn Native Indian tribes have changed their stance on bad actors and have decided to join the above-mentioned coalition to lobby for online poker legalization in California.
Recently, PokerStars created a group called Citizens for Responsible iPoker, which launched an initiative called “Let California Play.” As part of this initiative, the PokerStars Poker Tour was created and it stopped at 11 casinos all over the state to create awareness on online poker legalization.
Two major issues have been hindering the legalization of online poker in California over the past years. The first is the question of whether the state’s horse racing industry should be given the opportunity to grab a share of the online poker market. The second is the question of whether California’s online poker laws should have a bad actor clause, which will prevent the entry of PokerStars into the market.
A coalition of nine Native Indian Tribes, headed by the Pechanga Band, does not want horse racing tracks to be given online poker licenses. This coalition also wants a bad actor clause to be included in online poker laws. But recently, the coalition had stated that it is willing to compromise. It had suggested a revenue sharing agreement with owners of racing tracks, according to which horse racing tracks would become online poker affiliates instead of owners. The horse racing industry, however, refused to accept this suggestion.
While some analysts feel that there is a 50% chance of the state legalizing online poker in 2016, some say that there are no hopes for online poker in California.