California edges closer to online poker as bill passes
California’s Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee has voted 18-0 in favour of a bill that could lead to the legalisation of online poker in the US state before the end of the year.
Introduced by Assemblyman Adam Gray, AB 2863 must now be passed by two-thirds of the full Assembly before being forwarded to the Senate for a final vote.
Speaking at the Committee hearing, Gray said the bill offers a host of “consumer protections” to existing online poker players in the state, with other supporters noting that Californian residents can already access such services illegally via unregulated website.
Supporters of the bill include representatives from the state’s racing industry, which will reportedly receive $60 million (€52.8 million) per year in funding from online gaming under the proposed legislation.
The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, which owns Harrah’s Resort Southern California, spoke out in support of the bill, praising the decision as a “turning point” for online poker in the state.
“For the first time, we have moved closer to a consensus with Tribal governments, cardrooms, horse racing industry and labour groups supporting a safe and secure environment for Californians to use today’s technology to play poker,” the Rincon Band’s Steve Stallings said.
“We know and understand the complexity of this issue and know that more work is needed.“However, with the momentum established today, an internet poker bill can and will pass this year; we look forward to continued discussions with stakeholders and the legislature.”
Despite this support, the bill will have to deal with opposition from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, headed by Las Vegas Sands chief executive Sheldon Adelson, as well as the Pechanga and Agua Caliente tribes.
Gray admitted that a compromise must be reached regarding a bad actor clause for the bill if it is to pass.
“While we have not yet come to a consensus on this issue, through recent meetings with Tribal leaders, we have made serious progress,” Gray said.
Related article: California poker bill withdrawn from latest hearing