Gaming analysts were confident back in 2014 that California would legalize online poker and follow in the footsteps of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. However two years have passed since then and state legislators are still debating the possibility over legalizing the online poker industry in the state.
Assemblyman Adam Gray has done a lot of hard work to put together bill AB 2863 that seeks to legalize online poker. The bill appeared to gain momentum this year and there appeared to be just one significant issue that needed to be addressed at the Assembly Appropriations Committee which took place on June 15th. However after the meeting concluded, there were a number of new issues raised, especially by Pechanga who led the six tribe coalition.
Mark Mccarro, the Pechanga chairman did not speak during the meeting but Jeff Grubbe, the chairman of the Agua Caliente raised a number of objections that the coalition had with AB 2863. Considering the amount of new issues that were raised, it now appears that California is still a long way away from legalizing online poker, much to the disappointment of Assemblyman Gray.
One of the main issues raised by Grubbe was the suitability language that Gray had used in AB 2863 which would prevent PokerStars and its tribal card room partners from leveraging the customer list that was acquired when the company operated in California during the gray period of legality. Grubbe does not want PokerStars to be able to leverage its brands of assets in California as it would make the playing field unfair. Other issues included lowering the revenue stream of the horse racing industry and making two fiscal amendments to the bill.
In a statement, Gray said “I know this issue is complicated and new to this committee, but it’s relatively simple. Horse racing in or out; suitability language in or out. Two years ago, we had a coalition that wanted suitability language in and horse racing out. They have gotten what they wanted. We have further revisions we can do to improve the suitability language. It’s not as complicated as some people would like to make it.”
The continued opposition from Pechanga has clearly frustrated Gray and stalled the push for the legalization of online poker in California. However Gray remained hopeful that the bill could still be pushed through and promised to work on the suitability language in the next couple of weeks before pushing the bill for review yet again.