Online Poker Scuppered in California For Another Year

Despite optimistic claims from supporters of online poker in California it would now appear that for this year at least, the dream of a legalised and regulated internet based offering in the largest economy in the USA is still some way off.

There were some bold claims that before the end of August that assemblyman Adam Gray's bill, AB 2863, could pass across the assembly floor and onto the Senate, with news sources predicting that this could happen this past Monday. However, this failed to materialise, and with the state's legislative season coming to an end it isn't going to happen anytime soon.

As has been the case for some time, the major stumbling block is the Pechanga and Agua Caliente tribes objection to the inclusion of "bad actors" (sites which operated 'illegally' post UIGEA in 2006 - primarily PokerStars). The tribes are arguing that these sites have an unfair advantage over the rest as they built their brand, technology, and customer base without a US license.

There had been some movement with the opposing tribes willing to negotiate terms which would require the "bad actors" to pay a hefty fine AND incur a multi-year exclusion penalty (the tribes wanted 10 years, the bills proponents trying for 5), but ultimately such negotiations or conditions were not seen as acceptable by the pro-PokerStars movement and the sides are still at a stalemate.

On the bright side, however, more has been achieved this year that at any time over the past decade. Not only are several of the states tribes on board with the bill, and the Morongo Band of Mission Indian even making a deal to offer online poker with PokerStars in the event of regulation. Furthermore, after accepting a proposed $60m a year pay-off for their agreement not to pursue online poker licenses, the state's horse racing industry saw another obstacle to the bill safely navigated.

So, all-in-all, a disappointment to those hungry to see regulated online poker in the Garden State, but those pushing the bill forward are at least making some headway, albeit at a snails pace...


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