The culmination of California’s legislative session on Wednesday has put the kibosh on any hopes that the state will introduce online poker legislation before the end of this year.
Proponents of online poker in California had been hopeful of seeing progress in 2016, with AB 2863 introduced in February by California Assembly members Adam Gray and Reggie Jones-Sawyer.
However, the bill has proved divisive throughout its difficult six months in the Californian legislative system, with the “bad actor” issue chief among the problems weighing down the bill as Gray sought to smooth its passage into law.
On Thursday 18 August, Gray amended the bill to include a clause that would have seen PokerStars prevented from taking wagers for five years, placing the operator in a so-called “penalty box” due to its continued operation in California after the passage of UIGEA in 2006.
This was a move pushed for by a coalition of seven tribes, including the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
However, PokerStars and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) switched their stance to one of opposition as a result, PPA Executive Director John Pappas stating: “We are deeply disappointed that Chairman Adam Gray has chosen to play politics at the behest of special interests.”
Meanwhile, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians made clear that they were against the introduction of AB 2863, viewing it as not being punitive enough.
The pair stated that any five-year ban should begin upon the dealing of the first legal hand of online poker in the state, and not simply end in 2022.
A vote on the bill in the Californian Assembly has failed to materialise, and with the Assembly now having adjourned, any hopes of seeing online poker regulated in California have been kicked into touch until at least 2017.
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