Two Online Poker Introduced in California

February 24, 2014

California online poker may see the light of day this year. Two bills were introduced to the state’s legislature last week: Assembly Bill 2291 and Senate Bill 1366, sponsored by Representative Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Senator Lou Correa, respectively.

The first bill, SB 1366, is similar to a prior bill, but both new bills represent interests from two different tribal parties in California, and each bill was submitted to a different house of the legislature, both leading to legal online poker by the end of this year. The proposals are strictly for online poker, as lawmakers have made it clear that poker is considered a game of skill.

SB 1366 represents the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and will ban any sites that allowed US bets post-UIGEA, but it allows for interstate arrangements. AB 2291 represents eight different tribes within the state and requires license fees to be paid to the tune of $5 million each, allowing for 10 years activation and non-transferable allowances. This bill will not allow interstate agreements and should any federal legislation be passed in the future, this bill forbids any involvement in such legislation.

With a population of 38 million people, intrastate alliances are not a priority.

California houses the most powerful tribal gaming industry at nearly $7 billion, so it only seems right to right these bills in the interests of the tribes. Legislation currently calls for potential license holders to have had prior California gambling experience. They can forge partnerships with outside companies, but at least one party must have previous California-based gambling experience.

Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance says, “If the state’s fractious but politically powerful Native American gaming industry can agree to a consensus Internet poker bill, tribal lobbyists expect that it will move quickly.” August 31st is the deadline to pass the bill.

Another issue may lie in the fact that one of the biggest California online poker supporters, Senator White, was recently convicted of fraudulent voting. He was perhaps the cause’s biggest ally with the most knowledge of the California online poker bills.

Krafcik said, “In Sacramento, Senator Wright was considered the most educated lawmaker on Internet poker issues. Some in the Legislature feel that without a politico as knowledgeable as Wright advocating on behalf of the state, whatever Internet poker bill eventually passes could lean too heavily in favor of its Native American gaming industry.”


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