California online poker bill takes a step forward

The Assembly Appropriations Committee delayed the vote for one week due to further amendments.

US.- California online poker bill achieved another approval once the Assembly Appropriations Committee passed yesterday the AB 2863  project to get a full vote on State’s Assembly floor in the following weeks. Last Wednesday closed a phase for the legislation that targets to regulate the online poker activities.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, the sponsor of the bill, is optimistic for the future vote, although he recognised the complications that the proposal went through at this stage. “This has probably been the most vetted bill this legislative session, we’ve had weekly stakeholder meetings, we’ve done a series of amendments. In fact if we held every bill in this process to the standard we’ve held this bill, we wouldn’t have any bills,” he complained.

During the session, many politicians showed their opposition to the legalisation, including a hardline group of six Native American tribes. The main reason for their disapproval is the strong competition that could impose poker brands, such as PokerStars, to Californian casinos. However, last week’s amendments considered a clause of fair competition as operators who did offer games in the U.S. after the UIGEA passed would be able to pay a US$20 million fee or wait five years to apply for a license. PokerStars was also targeted by another amendment that would limit the use of “accrued assets” by operators. Furthermore, Parimutuel betting venues are still going to get as much as US$60 million in annual online poker revenue in exchange for not being allowed to operate online poker rooms, although one amendment stipulates that ten percent of gaming revenue will go straight to California’s General Fund before the racing industry gets its piece.