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To date, the new poker bill seems to be the most serious attempt to regulate iGaming in California.

New Online Poker Bill

The poker bill in California has gone through little progress despite years of discussion regarding online poker regulation in the state. But the introduction of the bill AB 2863, an entirely new bill, will make gaming interests and lawmakers consider once again legalizing and regulating online gambling in California.

Last week the draft legislation was floated. On Friday, the Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Assemblyman Adam Dray formally introduced the bill AB 2863.

 Bill AB 2863

The new bill build on previous legislative efforts in California is not very different from the previous ones.

The main difference of this bill from the previous ones, and the potential game changer, is the $ 60 million annual allowance to the horse racing industry.  In exchange the horse racing industry would not operate in a regulated online poker market.

The $60 million subsidy would come from a combo of tax revenue and licensing fees.

Some details of the bill:

  • California Indian tribes (already operating in the state) would be the only online poker operators
  • For the time being, bill AB 2863 doesn’t have any taxation or licensing fee specified
  • The bill has no “Bad-Actor” clause, which means that if the bill would pass, PokerStars could operate in California
  • After the bill passes, states agencies would have less than a year to come up with additional regulations

Even though, nearly everyone in California wants poker to be legalized and regulated in California, the main problem has been making different parties – tribes, lawmakers, tracks and card rooms and the population itself- happy. The bill presented last week, might represent a progress towards making the varied interests satisfied, but it still does not mean everyone will be on board.

There are still some issues that need to be solve, such as:

  • Horse racing subsidy: will the horse racing industry accept the requirements of the subsidy?
  • Amount of the subsidy: Is the amount of the subsidy ($60 million) realistic? Is the horse racing industry willing to accept that amount?
  • Is the “bad actor” debate over? Some tribes do not support PokerStars’ ability to operate in California, but the bill does not mention a “bad actor” clause. How will this be solved?

As you can see, before online poker becomes a reality in California, there are still some questions that need to be solved. The good news is that the parties involved are trying to come up with answers, instead of giving up.