For the fifth year running it appears that the prospect of legalised online poker in California is fading following the announcement by Sen. Lou Correa that he has pulled his legalisation bill due to too little time in which to reconcile the competing and vested interests of cardrooms and tribal groups.
Our readers will recall that Correa’s SB1366 is one of two legalisation bills that have been mired in intrastate politics at committee stage for months, with the August 31 deadline for finalising measures this legislative season looming.
The LA Times quotes Correa as saying that with less than a month left in the legislative session, there was not enough time to make major changes and get consensus from Indian casino operators and card clubs to hold a vote this year.
“Internet poker is an important public policy. We need to make sure it’s done right,” Correa told the newspaper.
That leaves California Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer’s online poker bill in limbo at the committee stage, and when we went to press there had been no indication of his intentions on the bill, which is in many ways similar to SB1366….and faces the same problems.
Given the rapidly expiring August 31 deadline, it also seems unlikely that reported “in the wings” legislative initiatives from other interests, including the tribes, will materialise this year.
The situation could represent a setback for Amaya Gaming’s recently acquired Pokerstars, which is in a Californian alliance with three major cardrooms and the Morongo tribal group as it campaigns against “bad actor” clauses demanded by many of the competing interests in a bid to exclude the online poker giant from the intrastate market.
Senator Correa is also chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, which oversees all bills related to gambling before referring them to the senate floor, and his decision to pull his own bill therefore carries additional weight.
The latest development also highlights once again the left-field legalisation initiative by the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, which last month announced its intention to unilaterally launch a real-money online poker room branded PrivateTable.com, citing federal legal justifications for doing so, and using a Kahnawake Gaming Commission licence (see previous reports).