2016 to Begin with Online Gaming Hearing in California

California State FlagWhen reflecting back on 2015, it seemed that the state of California would be the next to offer legislation for online gambling in the United States. Legislation had been introduced that focused on online poker and or online gaming as a whole, with many feeling California would join Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey as a provider of solid online gaming options.

However, it was not meant to be as 2015 came and went, seeing no legislation passed for online gaming in the state. It seemed that invested parties would not be able to come to an agreement on how online poker gaming should take place which led to constant fighting on the subject. Indian tribes, card rooms and racinos could not agree on what should take place in the industry, leading to bills dying before they even got started.

The two main areas of contention lied within the subject of bad actor clauses and the racinos. While some invested parties had no problem with either others were not so willing to allow such groups as PokerStars into the industry or have the racinos involved. These issues were the main reason why the state has not passed any legislation in 2015.

As 2016 begins, the state of California will begin discussions again, with the Governmental Organization Committee of the California State Assembly hosting a hearing on the 6th of January. The hearing will discuss online gaming bills and cover a variety of areas including poker, sports betting and daily fantasy sports.

One bill will be discussed that has the most possibility of being passed in the state legislature, AB 167. This legislation was introduced by Reginald Jones-Sawyer, a Representative of the state. The bill would open the state to allowing online poker gaming and will be the first on the schedule when the committee meets on Wednesday. This bill seems to have taken over as the main option for consideration than the other two bills that have been introduced.

With other legislation that was proposed, the race tracks of the state are not able to offer online poker gaming. The AB 167 bill allows for the race tracks to be a part of the industry as well as card rooms and Indian casinos. The bill also eliminates bad actor language that would prevent such sites as PokerStars from operating in the state. Bad actor clauses normally would keep any operator from offering services in the state when they were found to be participating after the UIGEA was put in place.

Other bills to be discussed include AB 1437 and AB 1441. These were introduced by Representative Adam Gray, with the first looking to pass regulation for daily fantasy sports while the second would open the state to sports wagering.

It is not expected that the hearings will end with the state moving forward with legislation but simply getting the discussions started once again. It would not be surprising to see more compromise by the Indian Tribes and card rooms as they went one entire year without seeing online gaming legislation passed due to issues in the past. 2016 may be the year the groups in the state decide to look aside from their differences and pass legislation to get the ball rolling with online gaming.

We shall see what happens after the hearing takes place on Wednesday. We will keep you updated on what happens during the meeting and how California plans on moving forward in regards to legislation that will pass online gambling options in the state. It will be interesting to see if California eventually becomes the next state to offer online poker gaming in the US.