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PokerLegal & Regulatory

California online poker bill may not be heard until 2018

A bi

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ll to legalise and regulate online poker in the state of California will likely not be heard until at least 2018, according to the latest report from Online Poker Report.

California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who co-introduced the bill in 2016 with Chairman of the Governmental Organisation Adam Grey received criticism from legislators in the state that their bill was too limited to achieve its proposed aims.

Responding to this, Jones-Sawyer said: “I don’t want to sound like a minister or psychologist, but we’ve got to start from ground zero where we’ve got to at least get people to want to try to get it done again.

“When I first started on this in earnest, we were going slow and methodical, and we had some successes. We weren’t trying to rush anyone and we weren’t pitting one side against the other, as best we could.”

Failure to agree the parameters of the bill on both sides of the debate has caused it to be stuck in a quagmire of legislation for over a decade.

This comes despite an agreement being reached between Indian tribes and the Californian horse-racing industry for racetracks to give up the right to run online poker operations in exchange for a $60 million annual stipend last year.

A major hurdle in getting the bill approved stems from Californian legislators attempts to allow internet gambling giant PokerStars entry into the proposed online poker market in the state.

California's tribal associations have previously voiced their opposition to PokerStars being allowed entry into the local gaming market, saying that it will harm their businesses.

Meetings with the tribes have been heated, with Assemblyman Gray notably having to call a sergeant of arms and recite criminal codes dealing with threatening a legislator at a meeting with coalition representatives.

With talks seemingly deadlocked, legislators are resigning themselves to further protracted negotiations, possibly next year.

Speaking to Online Poker Report, Jones-Sawyer said any plans to hear the bill this year would be shelved: “Obviously, we’re not going to put anything across the desk now.

“If you look at the Assembly, we have other big things such as the transportation bill to focus on. This would not be a good year to put something controversial in. I think the ability to work out something next year has a bigger chance if we do some of the come-together healing things right now.”
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