Supporters of online poker in California have been dealt a blow after a bill that could potentially lead to the legalisation of such gambling activities in the US state was pulled from an Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee hearing.
Introduced in February of last year by Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, AB 167 was due to be considered and discussed at a hearing yesterday (Wednesday) in Sacramento.
The bill states that licensed operators in the state would run verification similar to other licensed locales, while all players must be situated in California and at least 21 years of age in order to take part in online poker.
Other steps set out in AB 167 include plans for four-year renewable licences at a cost of $10 million (€9.3 million) each, with the state collecting approximately 8.5% of gross gaming revenue from operators.
However, despite having been scheduled for discussion at this week’s hearing, the bill was pulled from the meeting’s agenda.
The withdrawal will come as a boost to various tribes who have voiced their opposition to the bill, criticising the decision not to include a ‘bad actor’ clause.
Despite this opposition, Steve Stallings, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), has criticised the state’s Assembly Governmental Organisation Committee for not using the hearing to discuss the bill.
Stallings recognised that California is currently dealing with a number of bills related to gambling and gaming activities, but highlighted online poker as a key market for the state moving forward.
“We realise there are two other bills dealing with sports betting (AB 1441) and daily fantasy sports (DFS) (AB 1437) sharing the agenda with the I-Poker bill, AB 167,” Stallings said.
“AB 167 represents one of the last in a series of I-Poker bills, which, unlike AB 1441 and AB 1437, were thoroughly vetted, debated, altered, massaged, and continually passed over with the hope of a political miracle of consensus in the next year.
“The regulation of fantasy sports is well intended; however, the state needs to prove it can deal with one online game – I-Poker – before it takes on others.”