Lawmakers may enact online poker laws in California this year. An online poker hearing has been scheduled for Jan 6, sending a ray of hope to hundreds and thousands of poker fans who are just waiting to play online poker legally in their home state.
California has made several unsuccessful attempts to legalize online poker in the past. But the poker community is more optimistic about this year because the official website of the committee on government organization of the California State Assembly has the word “urgency” near the online poker bill that the state is currently considering, the same bill that will be heard at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
This bill, called AB 167, was introduced by Reginald Jones-Sawyer a year back. If passed into law, it will legalize intrastate Internet poker in California. It will allow the state’s card rooms, its horse racing industry, and tribes to run online poker rooms in California. The state’s previous attempts to legalize online poker had failed because the tribes did not want a share of the regulated online poker market to go to the horse racing industry.
AB 167 does not have any bad actor clause, which means that PokerStars will find it very easy to gain entry into California. Native Indian tribes were unable to agree on a bad actor clause in the past, preventing an online poker bill from being passed in the state.
California is also considering three more online gambling bills, which are scheduled to be heard on January 6. All these bills were introduced by Adam Gray, the chairman of the committee.
The most important of these bills are AB 1437 and AB 1441, which aim to regulate the state’s daily fantasy sports (DFS) and sports betting industries, respectively. Recently, several US states have begun hotly debating the legality of daily fantasy sports. Simultaneously, states such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are considering the legalization of online gambling, including online poker, and daily fantasy sports.
The possibilities of California legalizing online poker this year are, therefore, quite high. The state could finally join the ranks of US states such as New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada, which have already legalized various forms of online gambling. While Nevada has chosen to remain a poker-only state, Delaware and New Jersey have legalized online casino gaming too.
Simultaneously, a few pessimists have also warned California’s poker players that the state’s attempts to legalize online poker could fail.