On Thursday, history was made in California, as AB 431, a shell bill calling for licensing and regulating online poker, passed the California Assembly Appropriations Committee. Gambling Compliance’s Chris Krafcik pointed out that it might sit idle for the foreseeable future, however, Tweeting, “Bill heads to Assembly floor, where it will remain inactive until after upcoming hearings.”
Further hearings on internet gambling and online poker are scheduled in California in June and July, so that’s when we’d expect more movement on AB 431 and others like it.
According to Krafcik, “The one-page shell bill, AB431, is sponsored by Democrat Adam Gray. It states in part that any future internet poker measure adopted by the legislature must protect consumers and comply with applicable state and federal law.”
Despite the bill being put into what Gambling Compliance called a “holding pattern,” a bill passing committee in the market considered the Holy Grail in the US is a major feat.
To that end, Poker Players Alliance California State Director Steven Miller commented, “Today marks another historic day for online poker in California. A second committee has cleared a bill that marks a monumental step toward providing thousands of consumers with what they need and deserve: a safe place to play poker online.”
Miller also provided a forward-looking statement, saying, “There is much work to be done for this bill to become law. We urge the interested stakeholders to put aside their competitive differences and work together in the best interest of all Californians. California already serves as a hub of internet innovation and now has a unique opportunity to rise as a leader in the online poker industry and create new jobs and needed revenue.”
Issues surrounding AB 431 and other bills like it in California include whether race tracks should be able to participate in internet gambling and whether “bad actor” clauses that would bar sites like PokerStars that serviced the market post-UIGEA should be included. Indian tribes, card rooms, and race tracks are all vying for a seat at the table.
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