California online poker bill faces further changes

By Tom Lewis
A bill that would legalise online poker in California, which passed by a vote of 18-0 through the California Assembly Governmental Organisation in April, is facing a series of new amendments.

AB 2863 was introduced in February by Assemblyman Adam Gray, and is the state’s latest online poker proposal.

The amendments to the bill were posted by California gaming attorney David Fried, and are focused on the clarification of provisions dealt with sparingly in the bill’s original incarnation, including the issue of tax rates, license fees and the so-called “bad actor” clause.

The latter states that any operator which continued to accept online wagers after December 2011 from US-based players will not be eligible to receive a license to operate in California.

The amendment’s approval would enable operators such as PokerStars, which exited the market in April 2011, to apply for a licence in the state.

Operators able to prove that key individuals who ignored the cut off were “no longer affiliated with the applicant” or if the wagers in question “occurred within a reasonable time period in order to cease those activities in the United States” could still qualify for a license under the amendments.

Other amendments among those proposed by Fried include increasing the licence fee from $10m to $12.5m, and making the tax rate operators are required to pay dependent on the combined gross gaming revenue.

Also emphasised in the proposed alterations is that AB 2863 would only legalise online poker, and no other casino games, should it be successfully passed into law.

A final version of the bill is expected be submitted for an Assembly hearing this month.


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