Vote on California online poker delayed

By David Cook
A vote was not held at a hearing for a bill aiming to legalise online poker in California.

The bill, AB 2863, was introduced by Assemblyman Adam Gray in February and was unanimously passed 19-0 by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee in April.

It was re-referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, with two thirds of the votes required for the bill to pass to the Senate.

Changes have since been implemented to the bill, including a “bad actor” clause that would ban operators that accepted online wagers from US-based players after December 2011 from operating in the state, which would not include PokerStars.

Lorena Gonzalez, chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee, indicated that the bill could be amended and voted on “within the next two weeks”, according to Online Poker Report.

No official date has been given for the next hearing for the bill but the committee said it could be scheduled for 22 June.

The “bad actor” argument could be the main stumbling block the bill must overcome, as the Pechanga coalition, which involves the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, is aiming to prevent PokerStars from entering the market as a result of its continued operations in the state after online gambling in the US was made illegal in 2006.

Jeff Grubbe, Agua Caliente chairman, said at the hearing: “The issue of who is suitable to be licensed and the tainted assets that illegal gaming operators accrued through unlawful gaming for five or more years are the matters that drive us to strongly oppose this measure.”

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