What’s Behind California’s Online Poker Legislation Stalling?

California StateLast year, the United States began to offer online poker and casino gaming, with three states deciding to begin offering some form of gaming online. In Delaware and New Jersey, players have the option to enjoy poker as well as casino gaming online. In Nevada, the options are strictly limited to online poker. The rules are simple when it comes to United States online casino game play, you must be located within the regulated states to be able to participate in that state. This may soon change as Delaware and Nevada have started a multi-state agreement to share player pools, which is expected to start soon.

Once states began to see the options for online gaming, including revenues that could be made, others wanted to get in on the action. California is a hot topic when it comes to online poker has the state has been trying to get in on the action since last year. Even this year, as many as four bills have been introduced into legislation to try and allow residents to take part in online poker game play. However, those with a vested interest in the activity cannot seem to come to an agreement that works for everyone.

Many are beginning to wonder what is taking so long and why is California not offering online poker gaming already. Mike Gatto is an Assemblyman of the state and one who introduced legislation for legalizing the option. Gatto first believed the state had a 50/50 shot at passing legislation but now believes it will be amazing to see the state pass legislation by 2016.

During the recent iGaming Legislative Symposium, Gatto explained that the subject of online poker within the state is much more complicated than he first imagined. The assemblyman keeps a chart in his office which shows the points requested in the bill he has created and so far, he has already added 15 different factions to his chart.

Gatto stated that the main basis of his reevaluation of the bill is the feat that he sees in his colleagues eyes. Politicians are not courageous according to Gatto and when you have fifteen different groups coming in and drawing a line in the sand, it begs the question why even bring the bill to a vote?

Another reason the bill is set up to fail is that 2/3 of the vote are required for the bill to move forward. Gatto feels as though it will be impossible to get the politicians to vote so much in favor of the bill to see it pass. AB 9 is the bill submitted by Gatto and was the first to be introduced this year. This bill was followed by AB 167 by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer as well as bills created by State Senator Isadore Hall and Assemblyman Adam Grey.

Another point in the negative towards online poker is that residents in the state do not seem to have an opinion on the subject. Players are speaking out but not in large numbers that would push the subject to the forefront of politics within the state.

A major driving factor behind the legislation not passing is the bad actors and race track participation. Invested parties are divided as to who should be included and if bad actor clauses need to be added in or left out. Just recently many Indian tribes within the state that seemed to be divided on both issues have come forward to state they need to work together to see the activity passed.

Some type of consensus needs to be reached so online poker has a shot in the state. With the large population of California, the state could be a driving force to bring others into the industry and see a nationwide availability of online poker for players and operators alike.